The Mental Museum

Picasso Painting Guernica

with 3 comments


Picasso’s Guernica can be considered stemming from the cubist era of art. Notice the simple shapes he uses to construct this moment in history. Cylinders, triangles, squares, rectangles and circles make up his heavily weighted piece, massive in size and only black, white and gray. He depicts despair in the time of the Spanish civil war. As he paints two lights, a candle and a bulb he offers hope and yet fear with one knife. Notice the offset eyes of some of his characters, crazed with fear. He also paints the all knowing eye at the lower left. Although Spain is a united country, the Basque region of northern Spain exists as a linguistic phenomenon given that the language spoken is nothing like French nor Spanish. The city of Bilboa lies in the central Basque region, assumingly named after Spanish Catholic explorer, Vasco de Balboa.  There seems to be ground for assumption that the Basques are descendence from the aboriginal race of Europe. The language curiously has only two conjugations; “to be” and the other to express “to have” and encompasses as many as 25 dialects. A portion of their pride must surely be accredited to their resilience to a Roman attempt to impose a new language.  The Basque provences also encompassed the center of the iron mining regions of Spain, yet their language was not condusive to all allies formed during the civil war. Nonetheless, a complex network of factions within his country likely drove Picasso to look to France, his canvas and his pigment for an attempt to discover personal solace.


Written by thementalmuseum

April 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

Posted in 1

3 Responses

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  1. I found very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. keep it that way.

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    June 26, 2009 at 5:44 pm

  2. I agree! very well written and btw I love this painting


    February 3, 2010 at 12:45 am

  3. The city of Bilbao is not named after Vasco Núñez de Balboa, whose family were lords of the castle of Balboa, near Badajoz in the other side of Spain. It was founded in the 14th century, 100 years before Balboa was born. The name is of uncertain origin. Picasso moved to Paris decades before the painting of the picture, wich represents the bombing of the city of Guernica by the nazi’s Condor Legion. The did’n’t bomb Bilbao because they wanted to preserve the factories, not abundant in the rest of Spain. They wanted to destroy the “three of Guernica”, key in the mithology of the creation of the Basque country…they couldn’t.
    The painting is in black and white because that’s the only knowledge Picasso had of the event, through the newsreels shown in the cinemas in Paris…in black and white.


    December 21, 2010 at 3:16 am

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