Critical Analysis - Picasso's Guernica

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Critical Analysis of Guernica - By Bryce Craig

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso can often be collectively seen as the greatest and most influential artist of the twentieth century. In a historical sense he encompassed all that is to be a practicing modernist artist and prevailed as one of the most significant artists overall in human history. Picasso’s most well renowned painting presents to his audience a graphic reflection of the horrors and brutality of war; Guernica (1937) depicts the Spanish town of the same name being torn apart by the explosive fury that was the German air raid on the innocent and unaware village during the Spanish Civil War. The painting is currently housed in the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid yet also has a reputable copy in the United Nations HQ, New York City. It mirrors not only its immediate subject matter but also Picasso’s globally comparative interpretation of themes such as war, destruction and death. Guernica, 1937 effectively appeals to the audience’s emotions through Picasso’s proficient employment of certain art making techniques, many indicative of the cubist movement but can also have connections with Picasso’s post WWI ideas of surrealism and ‘return to order’ neoclassicism. This artwork is identified as a mural painting and was created using oil based paint on a 349 x 777cm canvas. A monochromatic colour scheme with only the most subtle hint of blue throughout evokes the emotional density behind this timeless artwork. Picasso’s use of line is thin however harshly outlines the semi-abstract and organic figures. The application of paint is layered and has contrasting tonal levels that may have metaphorical associations with what is immediately visible in the world and what humanity must look deeper for to eventually discover. Picasso’s use of shape and texture is warped and spontaneous in some instances then constructed and definitive in others; further exemplifying Picasso’s experimental and unconventional practice. Picasso...
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