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Pablo Picasso’s impassioned protest at the bombing of Guernica

Posted in Art, Arts and Crafts, Famous artists, Famous battles, Famous crimes, Historical articles, History, War on Friday, 30 March 2012

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This edited article about Pablo Picasso originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 680 published on 25 January 1975.

Guernica, picture, image, illustration

The bombing of Guernica inspired Picasso’s most famous painting which he called simply ‘Guernica’

The most influential and best known artist of this century, Pablo Picasso was born at Malaga in Spain on October 25, 1881. His father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, was a teacher at the local school of Arts and Crafts.

Picasso attended art schools in Barcelona and Madrid and early on showed remarkable talents in the field of art.

In 1903 the artist settled in Paris and from that time, spent most of his life in France. At first, he painted realistic pictures of ordinary people. He was fascinated by the life of the circus and the big city, although he painted not the gaiety of these subjects but their sadnesses.

This period of his life has been called his ‘blue period’ because he painted entirely in different shades of blue.

But it was not long before he was experimenting with different methods of painting in particular the cubism method. In cubism the artist does not try to paint recognisable pictures of actual objects, but to make pictures out of shapes such as cubes and triangles.

Later, sometime after 1918, Picasso’s paintings became more realistic again, but in 1924 there came another change in his work. Instead of using shapes and colours to give pleasure to people, he began to use them to disturb people. Distressed by the state of the world, he began to paint pictures which reflected the evil shown by mankind. Picasso’s most impassioned protest against a human act of aggression was revealed in his picture ‘Guernica’, a terrifying painting in which is seen all the artist’s horror at the bombing of the defenceless town of Guernica during the Civil War in Spain. This painting is a surrealist distortion of reality. He could have quite easily painted this picture in grotesque realistic detail in the manner of a photograph, but he chose to express his horror at such senseless inhumanity in his own individual, highly effective style.

And this brings us to the shocking aspect of Picasso’s style. By distorting reality, he shocked many people with his paintings and drawings which may sometimes seem as if they have been executed by a careless child. But Picasso was a superb artist, and could easily have painted his pictures in a realistic style. He decided to distort natural everyday things in order to make them more ‘real’ to the observer.

Few people today would dispute that Picasso has radically altered the course of art. His originality and imagination was to this century what Michelangelo’s was to his. Picasso has influenced every artist who has come after him, and today, nearly two years after his death at 91 on April 8th, 1973, his work continues to stand out among that of all others in the twentieth century.

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