Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, then and now


Picasso, Guernica

From History News Network in the USA:

Why Guernica Speaks to Us Now More than Ever

By Ian Patterson

Mr. Patterson is the author of Guernica and Total War (Harvard University Press, 2007).

He teaches Modern English Literature at Cambridge University, where he is a Fellow of Queens’ College.

Humankind (as T.S. Eliot said) may not be able to bear very much reality, but fantasy has never had it so good — or so powerful.

Unfortunately, fantasy is not extricable from reality, and imaginary aims can have real consequences, especially in war.

Look at the American tactic of “shock and awe” that was going to have such a rapid and devastating effect on Iraq that it would force Saddam Hussein to capitulate within days, after which peaceful Western-style democracy would spring up like mushrooms and make the Middle East safe for corporate shopping. …

A threat is powerless without some assurance that it is well-founded.

The first, and still in some ways the most striking, demonstration of this new power came in April 1937, when the ancient Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain was almost completely destroyed by the high explosive and incendiary bombs of the German Condor Legion.

As the title of Picasso’s painting, the name of Guernica has become synonymous with the inhumanity of bombing civilian targets.

But since then, civilians have more and more frequently been made the target of wartime bombing.

Death, destruction and demoralization have grown increasingly intertwined as military powers search for rapid victory.

The fact that rapid victory has seldom been forthcoming doesn’t seem to matter.

Picasso and resistance against the nazi occupation: here.

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