Artist: Pablo Picasso
Location: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
On April 27th, 1937 an unprecedented atrocity was perpetrated on behalf of the Spanish dictator Franco against the civilian population of a little Basque village in northern Spain. Chosen for bombing practice by Hitler's air force, the hamlet was pounded with high-explosive and incendiary bombs for over three hours. Guernica burned for three days and sixteen hundred civilians were killed or wounded.
When the news reached Paris, more than a million protesters flooded the streets to voice their outrage. Picasso was stunned by the stark black and white photographs. Appalled and enraged, Picasso rushed through the crowded streets to his studio, where he quickly sketched the first images for the mural became Guernica.
From the beginning, Picasso chooses not to represent the horror of Guernica in realist or romantic terms. Key figures - a woman with outstretched arms, a bull, and an agonized horse - are refined in sketch after sketch, and then transferred to the capacious canvas, which he also reworked several times. "A painting is not thought out and settled in advance," said Picasso. "While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it." Three months later, Guernica was delivered to the Spanish Pavilion, where the Paris Exposition was already in progress.