Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Picasso's War

Originally uploaded by sarah4855.

One of the main reasons I chose to visit Madrid was to see Picasso's Guernica in person. I knew it was a big canvas, but I was not prepared for just how big it actually is and the power it has. Also, having only seen it reproduced in books, I imagined that it was a purely black and white painting, but not so. The subtle tones of cream and peach as well as the shadows that were tucked into the corners of the canvas were brilliant. In the gallery room behind the painting were a series of photographs that showed Picasso, often with a cigarette and a feather duster in one hand, working on the piece during all the various stages of its completion - fascinating. You could see some original images (like more dying horses) that he intended to put into the painting and then covered over later. There is a fabulous book about this painting called Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica and the Masterpiece That Changed the World. And there is a website about the book - you can even listen to a survivor speak about the bombing itself.

Seeing Guernica at this point in time is particularly apt. At the beginning of the Iraq War, the mural version of Picasso's painting in the UN building in New York was covered up while Colin Powell made a speech in front of it. I wonder what Picasso would have thought of that...
You can read the various articles about this censorship in the NY Times, Washington Times, and Los Angeles Times all on this great website.

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