Guernica one of the most famous paintings in the world, it stands eleven feet tall and twenty five feet wide, it holds one of the most powerful political statements in history. Created in 1937 by Picasso who was a Spanish painter, he created this painting from his own outrage of the news of Guernica being bombed by Hitler in 1937, on the 27th of April in which is still considered to this day a crime against humanity. The painting its self is a visual response from Picasso which shows the horrific truth and events of Guernica in Picasso’s famous style of painting (Cubism), the pure size of Guernica makes you feel like you’re being wrapped in this horrific scene, but it’s not a clear insight, the oil painting seems more chaotic at first, but further analyses allows you to consider and piece together the painting, as if it is playing a game with you, which in effect makes you take in more and construct your own meaning of the painting.
There have been many interpretations of the symbolic content in Guernica over its lifetime, but some are more popular than others, starting with the forms and bearings of the figures in the painting which convey protest, the reasoning for Picasso using the colour pallet of black to grey was to create a more sorrowful atmosphere, the burning buildings are not an actual symbol for the bombing of Guernica, but rather to show the harmful ways of war, the news papers within the backdrop signals how Picasso found out about the bombings, the light bulb signifies death many believe this due to a comment he said when reflecting on his work talking about his influences when creating the painting, the broken sword is a symbol of the painful defeat of the people to their conquerors and finally the bull and horse are considered as one symbol, that they are involved in an ever lasting dance, the interpretation is that the bull and horse stand for the battle between the Republicans and the Nationalist in theory the bull is the Nationalist and the horse is Republicans, but Picasso used the symbols of the bull and horse in many of his paintings so this confuses the actually symbolic message they give in Guernica.
Finally Guernica was displayed at the International Exposition, Paris in 1937 for the world to see it quickly grabbed attention in which it then followed the painting while touring around the world with the intention to create awareness for the war and gain funds for the Republicans fight, the painting travelled for 19 years and ended up in USA for safe keeping, it now resides in Madrid at Reina Sofia, Spain’s national museum of modern art.
Do I like Guernica as a painting?
Guernica as a painting is a very interesting piece of artwork, I consider Picasso’s work very creative and bold. When looking and reading about it, some elements confuse me in Guernica and others just make sense, I think this is due to all the research about Guernica and all the interpretations surrounding this powerful artwork which does show how it can be tapped into and how it talks to so many people with different backgrounds and thats why I think Guernica is a great painting because it fits more than one purpose. I actually like the imagery, the tone work and how it is a sorrowful because of the pallet Picasso used, I also like the element of looking and searching for more, when looking at the painting, it size takes three or four looks to really take in the full image and to relate to it, this is clever, like refiguring a complex puzzle but I do hope one day I can travel to Madrid and really see the textures and pure size of Guernica for my own eyes, then I might be able to learn and feel more.
Do I think Guernica has importance?
In its own right Guernica has so much importance due to how powerful and historical it is, it’s a part of history that will never fade and has established itself as an anti-war symbol, not to mention its one of the most well travelled paintings in history, these stats alone show how important Guernica is, it literally has contributed to a war by funding the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, so it had a great purpose to serve, in this day an age it is more of an Anti-War symbol that shows the horrific elements of what war is and what should be considered before creating/starting one, it shows what can happen when we loose humanity.
Does it show the power of art?
I think Guernica is a fine example of what art can do, it’s sorrowful as well as powerful, its expresses as well questioned, it allows people to have their own opinion just like Picasso did on what happened to Guernica the town. This is what drives people to think of the painting as an anti-war symbol, Picasso never said it was an anti-war symbol, he wanted it as a big memorial but because of the statement and mystery it had, it became something else, it has evolved and became something more proud and powerful, but this is why I think Guernica shows the real power of art, because it keeps evolving, keeps questioning but also sustained a powerful feature of history that can never simply be chucked away, it’s so much of a powerful symbol for Spain and its history.
After learning the influence Guernica had in the Spanish Civil war and how it empowered to push people to aid the Republicans cause were asked to create our own versions of Guernica to help us show and empower our manifesto, by changing and including our own symbols, which fitted rightly in our cause to stop poverty around the world. First as a group we decided what our visual side should be for our Guernica do we want it to be easy or keeping close to Picasso’s style, will it be more colourful or more angry and ugly, it doesn’t have to be angry, but strong, all these questions we were asking about our Guernica because at the end of the day we were creating an expressive piece of artwork to symbolise our manifesto, it was decided to let James take the lead since he was more excited about his idea and more forth coming about it and he did well on the start of our manifesto, but as time went on it lost its way and wasn’t what we planned, so after some thought I recalled a piece of art I did back in college which I could share with the group and fit in with the look we wanted, the idea was to take a plain white canvas then take black and brown sugar paper and use the sugar paper to loosely apply the figures/elements that we wanted in our Guernica and then fill them in using white and black charcoal but being more expressive when making marks and drawing in the detail, we looked more to the artist Basquiat who was a real abstract crazy out there street artist who really did have his own style which we wanted to mirror for our Guernica and create a look that could be linked to our manifesto in future times, using this style it could mean that anyone who had a voice or wanted a voice who agreed with our manifesto could collect any material and produce any piece they want to shout out their message, opinion and views in ugly, but a beautiful way, it doesn’t have to be pretty to communicate to people.
so we started by drawing up the new symbols each person was given their own symbol to produce and after I needed to look, refine and see what needed to be done to each drawing while keeping to our style, once I finalised the drawings we moved on to the structure of the piece which myself, James and Callum composed together the finished structure is shown below…
Once we knew where every thing was going, we decided to cut and add the loose sugar paper to our white canvas but realised their was to much white space so we decided to add a touch of Picasso by using newspaper to fill in some white space then we applied the loose figures on top which is shown below…
then came the final part adding in the detail and the real expressive part of the artwork showed, showing how we felt about the problem we faced, we were frustrated, angry and ashamed we really did show this by adding strong marks and what we felt was expressed through our hard hitting marks and imagery this was what we needed for the final part of our process to create this Guernica, you can see the change below…
The Epicurean Guernica
the finished artwork which we have named ‘The Epicurean Guernica’.
Reflection on lecture
This lecture taught me some important skills and helped me enhance others that I was more scared to venture into, one skill was being team leader, after expressing my views and ideas, everybody taking them on board automatically I was made team leader, at first I was fearful, but as we progressed I started to roll with it, eventually finding my feet I started to enjoy the perks of being in charge and that everything needed to be checked with me first as well working as a unit to finish the work, being at the centre really made me feel part of the team and allowed me to be apart of every step that was made, this also allowed me feel like I have achieved more not just for myself but also for the team, another skill was decision making, due to all the views and opinions, I needed to make a decision on them, somethings were hard to say, but needed to be said this in a sense showed me that it can be difficult being the team leader and making those decisions, another thing I learnt about being the team leader is time management it’s actually my responsibility, we needed to keep free flowing and moving on course to achieve our outcomes but its easy to loose time when working with others so this is something I will defiantly have to consider in future projects, upon more reflection I realised its easier and a big pro to chuck your ideas in from the start because it can create issues later, but I also learnt that you do need to push your ideas sometimes because in bigger groups it can be easy to be overlooked and sometimes life is not fair and you have to play harder in ordered to be heard its never bad to have your own opinion or idea if you think it contributes, just chuck it in, but in this experience it was nice that my idea were taken on and that it lead to new opportunities that I enjoyed, it was nice to share my knowledge with the team and contribute to a main design which in result now has let me be more confident in expressing my knowledge and ideas in the future when collaborating or even helping my piers, finally in response to our actual outcome, I was very happy with the outcome it shows what our manifesto is all about and has fitted the style we wanted tremendously, we think this style can now be adopted as the visual style of our manifesto, it was really great finally to take are manifestos off page and really give it a face and is something I would like to consider taking it forward some time, reflecting on the group we were all inspiring graphic designers but it was also a nice learning experience to see how other people worked and how more than one view can really help you create a great outcome that relates to different people, it was fun creating these Guernica’s and gave me some things to consider in future projects.