The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Guernica as Anti-War Statement

Apr 24, 2017

Guernica also became known for an artistic reason, thanks to a painting after the bombing of 1937 by the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, then living in Paris.

After Picasso read what had happened in the village, he decided to create a painting about the human cost of the war. In just five weeks he created Guernica, in a style known as cubism. The style seemed suited to a work about death and destruction, because cubism breaks up figures and shapes into pieces. The final painting showed six figures of disaster, including a mother with a dead child, a soldier’s torn-apart body, and a dead horse and cow. Picasso said, “In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call ‘Guernica,’ and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”

Picasso sent the painting to circulate in Western Europe and the United States at museums and elsewhere, to raise money for the thousands of Spaniards who were victims, and often exiles, of the Spanish civil war.

He said the painting could not go to Spain until after Franco’s dictatorship ended. It now hangs in a museum in the capital of Spain, Madrid.

Picasso remained in Paris during the German occupation of the city. His fame gave him a certain protection, though he was sometimes harassed by the Gestapo. One Nazi officer searching his apartment saw a photograph of the painting Guernica. The German asked the artist, “Did you do that?” Picasso replied, “No, you did.”