Picasso’s painting Massacre in Korea

Pablo Picasso, Massacre in Korea

By Martin Shaw:

Pablo Picasso‘s ‘Massacre in Korea’ (1951; in the Musée Picasso, Paris), … is based on a massacre of Korean civilians by US forces at No Gun Ri from 26-29 July 1950, which has remained controversial to this day. Korean survivors claim that they were bombed by the US airforce on 26 July, and subsequently fired on by US soldiers in a tunnel into which large numbers had fled, leading to over 300 deaths.

Half a century later, after an indefatigable campaign by Korean survivors, in 1999 Associated Press reporters found US veterans who confirmed the massacre story. The US Army was finally forced to confront the allegations and established an official investigation into the episode, whose Report of the No Gun Ri Review was published in January 2001. …

Picasso’s painting was doubly controversial in its time. It not only endorsed claims of massacre that were denied by the US. It was also criticised within the French Communist Party (PCF), of which Picasso was a member, for not conforming to a socialist realist style. The painting has never achieved the iconic status of the earlier Guernica (1937), but it has remained one of Picasso’s most explicitly political works, a point of reference in various situations.

See also here.

Discussion about Picasso, politics, and art: here.

The story dates to the early 1950s, when the U.S. Air Force, bombed and napalmed cities, towns and villages across the North: here.

38 thoughts on “Picasso’s painting Massacre in Korea

  1. I love this painting of picasso;thanks for your article of Korean story!Picasso paints this drama inspired by Francisco de Goya’s paintings:2MAY and 3MAY 1808(painted in 1812!)


  2. To be like a Woman: Korean Pop Culture and the Image of Male Beauty

    Lecture by Dr Roald Maliangkay (The Australian National University)

    25 June 2009
    15.00 – 17.00 hrs

    Venue: Universiteit van Amsterdam. Oost-Indisch Huis. Room: Heeren 17, Kloveniersburgwal 48 Amsterdam

    In Korean the English word transgender has been made popular by the very attractive Ha Ri Su and Park Yuri, both women who were born male and have become famous for their good looks. Their work as talents is as much transgender as their background: they act, they appear on TV shows, in dramas, and they sing, dance and work as models. Hong Sokch’on, on the other hand, is often mentioned along with them, even though he’s a guy, and even though he’s gay, whereas the two ladies are neither. The only thing the three have in common is possibly the fact that they have opened up somewhat about their alternative sexuality in a society that has only recently come to accept it. Hong is the first star to have ever come out publicly, and when he did, in 2000, the TV network he was presenting for fired him immediately. Fortunately a massive public outcry over his redundancy led to his return to the screen and he is now a well-known “talent” whose work is as diverse as that of the two ladies.

    Hong’s public reinstatement came amid a new wave of male effeminacy in popular culture. In popular music and film, male stars began adopting stylistic characteristics that until the early 1990s would likely have been associated with women only. A good example is Pae Yongjun, the star of the most popular TV drama in Asian history, Winter Sonata. His smooth, pale skin, wavy hair, long eyelashes and super-white smile make him appear transgender. And he is certainly not the only one. Korean boybands have also becoming increasingly effeminate. Take the band TVXQ: their video ‘Tonight’ shows the singers in open-buttoned shirts with brightly colored, thin neckties, thick make-up, long earrings and flower-shaped microphones. They move softly, and pout their lips somewhat when the camera closes in. Their appearance reminisce the soft male figure found in Japanese and Korean games, comics and animation. In those areas of entertainment, gender relationships and characteristics are very much an area of exploration, where androgynous males generally have more interesting personalities. Is the strong likeness a conscious decision perhaps? In this talk I shall briefly explore the history of effeminacy in the image of male beauty in Korea, marking the most important factors in its development, and try to define effeminacy as it exists in Korean pop culture today.

    Contact: Michiel Baas, michiel.baas@uva.nl


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