The Art of War: Goya and Picasso

Topics: Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Cubism Pages: 4 (1292 words) Published: February 28, 2011
The Art of War: Goya and Picasso
War is hell. Literally. In an instant, in the blink of an eye, the world as we know it is torn apart and shredded. Normality explodes into atrocity as we see the depths of depravity that man can sink to. Even though their reasons for painting the pictures are different, Goya’s Third of May, 1808, and Picasso’s Guernica are testaments to the violence of war using specific events and symbolic features as their vehicle while their representations and styles are different.

Goya and Picasso both depicted actual events, though their reasons for painting the scene were greatly different. Goya requested official permission to paint the events of the Third of May, 1808 six years after the executions in response to a challenge about his sympathies during the French occupation (Grove). In 1808, Spain had been conquered by Napoleon, which was a welcome change as the citizens thought France would bring about reforms (Stockstad 954). On May 2, it was rumored that the French planned to kill the royal family and the people rioted. Hundreds of Spaniards were executed before dawn the next morning (Stockstad 954). Picasso, on the other hand, was commissioned to create a painting for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 World's Fair (Stoner). On April 27th, 1937, the Basque village in northern Spain was chosen for bombing practice by Hitler's burgeoning war machine, and the hamlet was pounded with high-explosive and incendiary bombs for over three hours; Guernica burned for three days. Sixteen hundred civilians were killed or wounded. When news of the massacre reached Paris, millions protested. Eyewitness reports filled the front pages of Paris papers. Picasso, upon seeing the stark black and white photographs, quickly sketched the first images of Guernica (Stoner).

Goya’s painting is not just about a specific event, but delves into the cold, faceless, horrors enacted during war itself, whereas Picasso’s work is a reaction to a...
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