pablo picasso guernica
The nearest military target of any consequence was a war product factory on Guernica’s outskirts, but it went through the attack unscathed. Thus, the attack was widely condemned as a terror bombing.  
Two “hidden” images formed by the horse appear in Guernica:
The Republican forces were made up of assorted factions (Communists, Socialists, Anarchists and others) with differing goals, but united in their opposition to the Nationalists. The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, sought a return to pre-Republican Spain, based on law, order, and traditional Catholic values.
Guernica is painted in monochrome, using a palette of grey, black, and white. Perhaps Picasso wanted to give his painting a veneer of photojournalistic realism; or maybe the bleak, night-time colour scheme complemented the jagged shapes and terror-stricken faces, and added to the sense of panic and terror. In any event, the lack of colour gives added impact to the flattened Cubist forms, and adds to the drama of the work by allowing Picasso to highlight key faces and objects in white. This painting is undoubtedly modern art’s most famous response to war, and an international symbol of genocide committed during wartime.
Guernica is an icon of modern art, the Mona Lisa for our time. As Leonardo da Vinci evoked a Renaissance ideal of serenity and self-control, Guernica should be seen as Picasso‘s comment on what art can actually contribute towards the self-assertion that liberates every human being and protects the individual against overwhelming forces such as political crime, war, and death.
3. Perhaps because Picasso learned about the Guernica bombing by reading an article in newspaper, the suggestion of torn newsprint appears in the painting. It doubles as the horse’s chain mail.
When the world’s fair ended, the Spanish Republic toured Guernica throughout Scandinavia and England to raise awareness and funds for their cause. In 1939, however, they conceded to the Nationalists. Picasso vehemently refused to allow the painting to reside in Spain while Franco ruled, declaring that “the painting will be turned over to the government of the Spanish Republic the day the Republic is restored in Spain!” Thus began the painting’s long exile.
Displayed near the entrance of the Republican’s pavilion, Guernica was the first thing many visitors saw. The complex composition, with Picasso’s characteristic Cubist figures and disquieting representation of space, was not easy to read. A braying horse occupies the painting’s centre, stumbling over its fallen rider sprawled below and lit by the spiked rays of a lightbulb above. A bellowing bull on the left seems to encompass a wailing mother with her child laying slack in her arms. A ghostly figure emerges from an opening to the right, holding a gaslight, while a woman closer to the foreground hangs her arms in despair. Farther back, flames and possibly ruins consume a howling figure. The dramatic subject is subdued, painted in the grisaille technique, a method using a neutral monochrome palette. Picasso said very little about the painting’s meaning, leaving interpretation to viewers, critics, and art historians. Although clear as an emotional response to war’s senseless violence, the painting, with its mismatched subjects, confounded world’s fair viewers. Whether it was successful as a political statement became a debate among scholars.
Paloma Esteban Leal
An accurate depiction of a cruel, dramatic situation, Guernica was created to be part of the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exposition in Paris in 1937. Pablo Picasso’s motivation for painting the scene in this great work was the news of the German aerial bombing of the Basque town whose name the piece bears, which the artist had seen in the dramatic photographs published in various periodicals, including the French newspaper L’Humanité. Despite that, neither the studies nor the finished picture contain a single allusion to a specific event, constituting instead a generic plea against the barbarity and terror of war. The huge picture is conceived as a giant poster, testimony to the horror that the Spanish Civil War was causing and a forewarning of what was to come in the Second World War. The muted colours, the intensity of each and every one of the motifs and the way they are articulated are all essential to the extreme tragedy of the scene, which would become the emblem for all the devastating tragedies of modern society.
Guernica has attracted a number of controversial interpretations, doubtless due in part to the deliberate use in the painting of only greyish tones. Analysing the iconography in the painting, one Guernica scholar, Anthony Blunt, divides the protagonists of the pyramidal composition into two groups, the first of which is made up of three animals; the bull, the wounded horse and the winged bird that can just be made out in the background on the left. The second group is made up of the human beings, consisting of a dead soldier and a number of women: the one on the upper right, holding a lamp and leaning through a window, the mother on the left, wailing as she holds her dead child, the one rushing in from the right and finally the one who is crying out to the heavens, her arms raised as a house burns down behind her.
At this point it should be remembered that two years earlier, in 1935, Picasso had done the etching Minotauromaquia, a synthetic work condensing into a single image all the symbols of his cycle dedicated to the mythological creature, which stands as Guernica’s most direct relative.
Incidents in Picasso’s private life and the political events afflicting Europe between the wars fused together in the motifs the painter was using at the time, resulting both in Guernica itself and all the studies and ‘postscripts’, regarded as among the most representative works of art of the 20 th century.