Pablo Picasso is considered the most brilliant and influential artist of the 20th century. He was a prolific artist whose work included painting, sculpture, prints, applied art and ceramics. Born in Spain in 1881, Picasso moved to France at the turn of the 20th century where he spent most of his adult life until his death in 1973. During his artistic career, which span for about 75 years, hecovered a variety of styles always in a surge for challenging and experimenting different ways of expressing himself.
The years 1901 to 1904 cover his “Blue Period” where shades of blue and grey began to dominate his work evoking feelings of sadness and alienation. This is the first time that Picasso places his own distinct stamp upon art. In 1904 Picasso, by now firmly part of the Parisianscene, began his “Rose Period” where he continued using monumental figures set against monochromatic backgrounds but now using varying tones of rose colour and his paintings took on a warmer more optimistic mood. In 1907 he and the French painter George Braque pioneered a new style known as “Cubism”. This new movement marked a fundamental change in the art world, harmonization of form, image andcontent was no longer pursued but instead the subject is broken up and reassembled in an abstract way giving more substance to form and content. By 1912 Picasso was incorporating newsprint, postage stamps and other materials into his paintings marking the first use of collage in fine art. This style is known as “Synthetic Cubism”. In the 1920’s Picasso moved to a more classical style where thehuman image is central to the composition although, contrary to the classical style, he ignores the principles of balance introducing monstrous and disproportioned figures. During the 20’s and 30’s Picasso starts experimenting with surrealism, this time it’s not a gradual personal progression but an external influence, and he begins introducing symbolic figures in his paintings such as minotaur andbullfighting themes.
It is at this time of his career that in 1937 Picasso painted “Guernica” as a protest against the air raid against on the Basque village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. This essay focuses on this work as it is considered to be a major painting both as a political statement and as a brilliant work of art. The essay will begin by analysing the politicalbackground and Picasso’s personal situation in order to understand the creation of the painting. It will look at the style, technique, colour, composition and other variables used in the painting and assess the final result. Finally, the impact of the painting to date will be analysed.
In the 1930’s Pablo Picasso was already a very well known and regarded artist. He had never been involved inpolitics, in fact Kahnweiler, his friend and agent for over 60 years, said that Picasso was “the post apolitical man he had ever met”. It was only with the start of the Spanish Civil War, at the aged of 55, that he began to show interest in political issues. In November 1936 Madrid, which was in the hands of the elected Republican Government, was bombed by the fascist forces under Franco with thePrado Museum being one of the targets. As a result the art collection was moved to another location for safe keeping. At that moment Picasso was made honorary director of the Museum and soon afterwards he was also commissioned by the Spanish Republican Government to create a mural for the Spanish Pavilion at the World Fair to be held in Paris in 1937.
Picasso had not started work on the muralwhich was planed to have a theme representing the freedom of art, using a studio scene with painter and model. This situation changed rapidly when on 26th of April 1937 the Spanish town of “Guernica” was heavily bombed by Franco National forces supported by German and Italian aircraft. The town, which was of no military importance, was razed to the ground in just three hours with a large number of...
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