Friday, September 06, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ Guernica

Which famous painting best represents this week's news stories, and arguments on the possibility of the USA using military force in Syria?

Guernica, one of Picasso's best known, and certainly his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War.

 Click on image to see a bigger version

Some information from this website, devoted to the work of Pablo Picasso
Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world's attention.

Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and contradict one another. This extends, for example, to the mural's two dominant elements: the bull and the horse. Art historian Patricia Failing said, "The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough. Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso's career."

Some critics warn against trusting the polital message in Guernica. For instance the rampaging bull, a major motif of destruction here, has previouse figured, whether as a bull or Minotaur, as Picasso' ego. However, in this instance the bull probably represents the onslaught of Fascism. Picasso said it meant brutality and darkness, presumably reminiscent of his prophetic. He also stated that the horse represented the people of Guernica.

Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay in Basque Country. During the Spanish Civil War, it was regarded as the northern bastion of the Republican resistance movement and the epicenter of Basque culture, adding to its significance as a target.

The Republican forces were made up of assorted factions (Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, to name a few) with wildly differing approaches to government and eventual aims, but a common opposition to the Nationalists. The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, were also factionalized but to a lesser extent. They sought a return to the golden days of Spain, based on law, order, and traditional Catholic family values.

At about 16:30 on Monday, 26 April 1937, warplanes of the German Condor Legion, commanded by Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, bombed Guernica for about two hours. Germany, at this time led by Hitler, had lent material support to the Nationalists and were using the war as an opportunity to test out new weapons and tactics. Later, intense aerial bombardment became a crucial preliminary step in the Blitzkrieg tactic.

............It is interesting to note, however, that at its unveiling at the Paris Exhibition, it garnered little attention. It would later attain its power as such a potent symbol of the destruction of war on innocent lives.

For astrology: Picasso's natal chart appears in my 2007 post
Two Artists, Cubism, Uranus & Algol.


mike said...

It's always amazing what artists can conceptualize that would take way too many words otherwise! Artists with an anti-war message seem more unique to the 20th and 21st centuries, as artists ventured away from realism. I just performed a search for anti-Iraq war art and anti-Syrian war art...both have numerous entries.

With Russia's latest discrimination against gays, there have been numerous Russian artists going into hiding or fleeing the country, due to their flamboyant characterizations of Putin, et al (including with Obama):

You may want to use this painting for your annual Xmas pagan post! LOL

mike (again) said...

From Stephen Colbert on Syria:

"Dictator Bashar al-Assad is killing his own people with chemical weapons. Before he was just killing them with bullets," Colbert said. "If America cared about shooting people, we'd be invading Chicago."

Twilight said...

mike ~~Yes - I suppose it was that World Wars 1 and 2 brought artists to their senses, and they began to do paintings which didn't glorify war (as had been the case in past centuries).

LOL! Hmmm that's an ultra flamboyant one. Add a few bits of miseltoe and holly and it'd make a fine greetings card for The Holiday Season. ;-)

mike (again)

Good one! On much the same vein i've just seen Ted Rall's cartoon for today:

James Higham said...

You're getting ready for dinner. Next thing you're massacred. Brings it home.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~ And you don't get to choose the method: drone, conventional bomb or grenade, shooting, chemical weapon, rape/pillage/burn.....

ex-Chomp said...

Ye know, ye things are many times so far from our ideas and idealism, even if this idealism may be true.

There is crack in everything but light does not come through that chink.

Perhaps it is darkness, it is darkness that comes out.

But had it to come out? Was it a Doom, a Destiny, a Fate but not a faith?

Who knows ...

Anyway I do appreciate the intensity that Guernica painting has...

Unfortunately to be said, war and art many too many times go in pair. Some of the greatest masterpieces happened to be made in tough times, when wars and famine obscured the darkened sky of this fading mankind.

This is a thing modern idealism does not love to love, does not accept to accept. But the only question that matters is: Is it true or not.

That is what is important finally.

The problem today is that people want to save a system, maintain a balance **without** changing the balance of power in this world.

Can you accpet to admit that without changing that balance, no matter what we may desire, things would go bad? Do you not?

Things will continue on that Path we are in from many decades. And that we do not like it does not mean it can be changed, for you simply cannot change the war/peace/famine problems without facing, and changing, the problem of the distribution of power and richness in this world.

This has been guiltly forgotten from too much time.

We must start from remembering it, if we want to give power to our words and relevance to our desires.

Twilight said...

ex-Chomp ~ Hmmm - some deep dark thoughts there ex-Chomp.

I agree that the balance of wealth distribution (globally) needs to change before anything major would or could change. But, I also suspect that, even after some mighty conflagration (imaginary) took place, where the people of the world rose up against the Oligarchy/Elite/1% and all they stand for - and defeated them after much bloodshed and destruction of land and property - after maybe a couple of decades when the balance had been changed, we'd be back to that cycle of war/peace/famine you described.

Why do I think that?

Because we are human beings living on planet Earth with certain planets in orbit around a star called The Sun. There's something in our very make-up that is circular, cycular, a repeating or rhyming pattern which we cannot ever overcome - unless we were to leave this planet. Even then, on another seemingly friendly planet we could eventually discover even worse eventualities stemming from its position in the universe.

All a bit sci-fi, but the evidence points that way, does it not?

Accepting, and bearing all of that in mind, the best we can ever hope to do is try to re-balance things slightly whenever they tip too far to one side or the other. That seems to be becoming more difficult with the centuries, not easier as one might have supposed.

We do need some kind of re-alignment now, even if a temporary one - that is for certain.