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Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937.

The Past Is Never Truly Gone

Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay in the Basque Country. On 26 April 1937, the town became known around the world for one event.

The Mural

Picasso had been commissioned by the Spanish Republic to create a large mural which was to be displayed at the International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life at the 1937 World’s Fair. Picasso had created a few initial sketches for his piece but had not settled on any one sketch by the time of the bombing.

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Guernica, lying in ruins after the bombing.

…this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse… If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.

With no official interpretation of the mural, it is left to speculation to determine what the central figures, the bull and the horse, represent. One theory is that the bull represents Nationalism, while the horse is the Spanish Republic and its followers succumbing to their wounds and dying a senseless death.

The Significance of Guernica

To this day, the painting still holds significance in Spain. The country is still coming to terms with the civil war, even though it ended in 1939. when Franco died in 1975, parties on both sides of the political spectrum decided against looking into the past.

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Pablo Picasso, pictured in 1908.

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