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Pablo Picasso.  Guernica and the Colour.

 Cubism.





On Monday, April 26, 1937, 43 apparatuses of the Condor legion release 
a total load of 50 tons bombs on the Basque small town of Guernica. 

Monday is market day in Guernica, the inhabitants of the neighborhoods came many. 
This bombardment makes more than 1.500 victims and causes an enormous emotion in the international opinion, that of which testifies the table to Picasso (Guernica), it galvanizes the resistance of the Basque people and it takes two months for pro-Franco to cross about thirty kilometers which separate Guernica from Bilbao, the capital, which falls on June 19th, 1937.

Guernica, small village of no importance, cannot in no case to constitute a military objective. 
With share of the civilians and animals, because it is market day, it does not have nothing dangerous in Guernica there. 

It acts simply, for the German aviation of a exercise life size.



Oil on canvas of Pablo Picasso (351 × 782 cm) answers a ordering of the Spanish republican government for the International exhibition of arts and techniques which takes place in Paris in 1937.

The painter delivers a painting violently committed whose each detail of the composition was patiently elaborate, as testify to it the photographs taken to the 7 successive versions of the fabric by his Dora Maar partner (1907 - 1997), or the hundred studies carried out before and during his execution.

Photos of Dora Maar during the work of Picasso with Guernica. 

Guernica is one of the most famous works of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 
and one of the most known painting in the world.

The composition in triangles points out that of the pediments of the Greek temples or of the Romance tympanums, it gives to work its tragic dimension. It is an allegory of the hatred which composes Picasso, a war memorial all in black and white since, after having hesitated to leave in the painting a tear cut out in red paper, it makes the economy for only preserving of it the black and white colours, same as those, impressive, of the photographs of press of the city in flames, in particular published in This evening, 
the newspaper directed by Aragon. 

But Guernica comprises also a range of grey. The black, the white, the grey are the single colours.

This seems logical and realistic since the fabric, made up like a fresco, represents the city after the bombardment and at this time the immense quantity of raised dust lets appear only these 3 colours. 

Even the red disappears, which explains the disappearance of the tear cut out in red paper. 

The subjects represented, the horse, the bull, the bird, the sun, the carrying one light, 
have a function symbolic system whose direction, if it is not defined, gives however 
to the painting its universal and timeless character. It is this concern besides 
of exceeding the historical event itself which in hollow the absence 
of date of execution and signature of Picasso underlines, however systematically 
affixed on the whole of its production.

Engaged, the painter is on two accounts in his painting, because the militant response is accompanied by a personal testimony which has to him also value of engagement: its love life is indeed evoked by the irruption of his/her partners Marie-Therese Walter and Dora Maar, the woman in tears, in the painting. By the will of the painter the intimate history and the history interpenetrate very short.

Exposed to the museum of Modern art of New York for the pro-Franco period, work is today visible in Madrid with the Museum Reina Sofía since 1981.

The central figure of the painting is a horse or a mare, which howls, horrified, and whose body, covered with vertical features, like dotted lines forming of the horizontal lines, is transpierced by a lance in the back.

On the left, a woman carries her dead child and shouts of pain. Behind it, draws up a bull. In bottom, 
on the left, a man lengthened with the arms in cross holds a broken sword. 

Only tiny trace of hope, one distinguishes a small flower almost unobtrusive 
between the legs from the horse and the broken sword.

On the right, three women cry or howl. One of them tightens an oil lamp towards the center of the table. 
With the background, geometrical forms evoke set fire to buildings, 
the flames being represented by clear triangles.

The body expression of the character on the right, with the feminine attributes (long hair, centres, dress) and which raises the arms to the sky, was compared with that of shot of 3 de Mayo of Francisco de Goya. 
The general Attitude of the 3 of Mayo is also found in a posterior painting of Picasso 
on the massacres of the war of Korea.


The composition of the painting takes as a starting point the illustration of the episode 
of the new will known as of the Massacre of the innocent. 

According to the Gospel of saint Matthieu, II, 16, Hérode Ier one tries to kill the Jesus child 
by massacring all the male children in the area of Bethlehem, the expression “massacre of the innocent ” indicates this episode.

This scene is very represented in the history of Art, one can quote the paintings of Leon Cogniet 1824, 
of Bruegel Old the 1566-1567, but the painting of Picasso is inspired especially by the work 
of Guido Reni and Nicolas Poussin. 

The raised arms of the woman in flames and the mother with the dead child, in Guernica, are reflections of the characters of Poussin painting, one can indeed compare these characters with the mother knelt with the foreground and that equipped in blue with the background, on the right.

The female character in bottom on the right, which trails its cut leg, was also compared with the mother of the foreground of the Massacre of the innocent of Poussin.

The character of the mother to the dead child, on the left in the table of Picasso, was also often compared 
with Pietà of Michel-Angel.


When Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler asks Picasso to clarify the symbolism of the bull, he answers him :

“This bull is a bull, this horse is a horse. There is also a kind of bird, a chicken or pigeon, I do not remember more, on the table. This chicken is a chicken. Of course, symbols… But one should not that the painter creates them these symbols, without that it would be better straightforwardly to write what one wants to say, instead of painting it. It is necessary that the public, the spectators, see in the horse, the bull, the symbols which they interpret as they hear it. There are animals : they are animals, massacred animals. ”

Many artists took again the fresco Guernica of Picasso to add colour there. 
We have find innumerable examples of them on the Web. 

Works more or less are successful, certain attempts are even rather whimsical. 
Works which keep coherence in let us tons are most interesting. 

Especially works which add to grey nuances of the little contrasted colours. 




This shows that the choice of the artist is the good. The black, 
the white and the various ones let us tons of grey are enough 
to express the suffering and the pain of the war. 

“Painting is not made to decorate the apartments, 
it is an instrument of war offensive and defensive against the enemy. ”

Pablo Picasso. 

Video : Guernica 3D. 


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