Painted in 1937 as a reaction to the bombing of the spanish village Guernica by Hitler as a way to test out new bombs and was one of the first non military targets – it was hit purely to effect moral.
The painting is a sort of triptic, technique where to smaller frames surround a larger middle panel which was used to emphasize what was happening in the middle. however this compositional technique slows the action and breaks up the image so picasso creates compositional lines where the tone of one shape is split (near the hand with the lamp).
Picasso uses changes in tone and subtle changes in texture to separate the different forms within the chaotic piece, the nature of the cubist painting means the audience has to really look into the piece and think about what the piece. Building on the idea that light is death as seen in Francisco Goya’s work picasso uses this explosive all seeing eye shape with a bulb in the middle and the womans candle stick to show how death has vastly spread across the scene. The size and positioning of the piece at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne illustrates Picasso’s intention for Guernica to be a mural to the tragedy of the town, he felt passionately about the work and what it stood for and said the work should not return to spain whilst it was still ran by a Republican government.
A tapestry of the original painting was made to be hung in the UN Building in New York where it was to serve as a reminder of the tragedy and loss war creates. Contraversingly the tapestry was covered with a blue curtain when war on Iraq was announced. This was used when the tapestry was displayed 70 years after the initial show at the WhiteChapel gallery – the blue curtain was the backdrop. At the first show in at the Whitechapel gallery the admission fee was a “pair of serviceable boots” to be sent to the front line.
The painting resides in Madrid now too fragile to be moved or transported for exhibition.