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Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece That Changed the World
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Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica, and the Masterpiece That Changed the World

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  266 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A military action and the artistic response that it engendered are the topics of this absorbing narrative. In late April 1937, Guernica, a remote Basque town in northern Spain, was pounded by Hitler's Luftwaffe in support of Francisco Franco's fascist insurgents. In the carnage that ensued, more than 1,600 civilians are killed or wounded. When the news reached Paris, world ...more
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Published May 16th 2002 by HighBridge Company (first published 2002)
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I bought this book at the Picasso Museum in Malaga Spain the summer before last. I was grateful I had such a good book to read as I and my buddy Jim embarked on a journey through the Dantean underworld trying to get to Nice and then down to the Carmargue. Our bags were lost and we spent four stinky days at a horse farm. You know you need a shower when horses turn away from you.

This book is a model for anyone wanting to write a contemporary history---it reminds me of stuff Steven Watson has done
I went back to my art history book from college to find as large a reproduction of the Guernica painting as I could find to fix its details in my mind. Martin takes us on the journey from the obliteration of the town by Nazi bombers through Picasso's creation of the painting in response to the atrocity, and then on the parallel tracks of Picasso's self exile outside Spain during Franc's reign and the painting's journey to France, the U.S. and finally back to Spain. Martin does a skillful job of ...more
I learned a lot reading this book. I saw Guernica, Picasso's painting when I was in Madrid in April. But I didn't know the background story of the painting. During the Spanish Civil War, in 1937, Franco allowed the German and Italian air forces to bomb the Basque village of Guernica. The village was destroyed. The Franco government denied that it allowed bombings to occur, instead he blamed the Communists. The Germans viewed it as a practice for future bombings or blitzkriegs. Picasso was living ...more
I'd have to say this one is 'strictly for fans,' of art or history or art history. And it's a shame because there's so much good info here for the initiated: the Spanish Civil War, the bombing of the Basque town of Gernika by the Nazis, and the creation of one the world's best known paintings.

This would have made a great New Yorker article and that's the problem right there, instead, it's been extruded into a book, albeit a short one, but one that could have been an eighth as long as still had t
Feisty Harriet
This is a re-read for me, but after finishing My Name is Asher Lev which talks about art during the first half of the 1900′s where Picassso was the master and king, I decided to re-read this. Picasso’s War is a semi-biographical book about Picasso as a Spanish exile living and painting in France. The bulk of the book details the Spanish Civil War in 1937-1939, which in many ways was a testing ground for Hitler and Mussolini to flex their muscles on a compliant and cowardly Franco government. (“F ...more
From my blog:

I'm reading Picasso's War. It is so good - just the sort of thing I need to keep the old grey matter going. I can't - I just can't believe the destruction that took place at Guernica. It's beyond words. I was reading about the bombing while on my lunch break yesterday and was so deeply moved. The things humanity does to itself are just astounding. And all of Europe was horrified and up at arms - yet we allow these things to happen again and again. The author, Russell Martin, describ
Pablo Picasso's painting, Guernica, is discussed: the Spanish Civil War that led to its creation, the painting itself of course, the artist's life, the painting's place in the world both physically and symbolically, etc.

The author mixes historical and personal narration with excerpts from newspaper and magazine articles and statements from interviiews with witnesses of the titular bombing, as well as contemporaries of Picasso and those involved with the painting or the struggles in Spain throug
Lori Watson koenig
Was really good for a history buff like me. Opened my eyes to stuff I didn't know about the Spanish civil war and about Pablo picasso.

Much of the book (too much) was about the fight for the final exhibition place of the painting. It was interesting but just a little too long for me.

Lots of information about the Basques. Loved that. This is a piece of art and an historical tragedy that I knew nothing about.
Totally pedestrian approach to an infamous crime and a famous painting. The style of writing managed to make both the war and Picaso's life feel repetitive without making either subject feel as if it was leading to any resolutions.
Martin's book seeks to juggle political/world history, art history, and biography of Picasso-- and to some extent, the book succeeds. There is a definite tilt toward Spanish political history, though, that leaves one wishing for a bit more insight into the painter himself, though I understand that this was not meant to be a thorough biography in any sense. Additionally, the argument that the painting "changed the world" is not really fleshed out as much as I'd hoped, though certainly the book pr ...more
This extremely insightful and compelling history of the famed Spanish artist and his renowned painting, Guernica, is equal parts biography and art history. Chronicling the brutal razing of the Basque town Guernica by Nazi bombers in 1937, Martin explores the details behind Picasso’s expatriation to France during the rise and rule of Franco and the creation and reception of the epic painting. Picasso’s War is an inspiring and enlightening read for anyone interested in art history, the Spanish civ ...more
This was really an interesting book to me. It's about the destruction of Guernica, and how it inspired Picasso's painting. It talks about the history of the painting, early sketches, its place in exhibitions throughout Europe and America, and finally its arrival at a permanent home in Spain. Also talks about the significance it has come to have throughout the world as a symbol for peace. This book put the painting in its historical context, and helped me understand those times better. It also ha ...more
I am not a huge fan of Picasso's work, but my wife who is the art buff in this family had bought it and recommended it to me. I had seen photographs of his famous painting of the destruction Guernica and was interested to understand its background. This of course spawned one of my favourite quotes - when soldiers looked at the painting and asked did you do this, Picasso answers, no, you did.

If the world can't learn from this 80 years later then were truly are doomed.
I already know quite a lot about the recent history of Spain, but not a lot about Guernica, so I thought this book would be an interesting read. It might be good as an introduction to both the painting and the history of Spain after the Civil War, but I found it very boring. The topic was interesting and I learned a lot of new things, but there was something about the writing that really lacked any kind of ability to keep the reader's interest.
This book was an excellent look at the life of an influential artist and the events that shaped his work. I have a new understanding of the man and the art. After reading this book, you will view and feel the artist's work with new perspective. As for me, I can hear Guernica scream.
Wonderful read! This book explores so many things so well -- Picasso's life, Spainish politics, and artistic movements during WWII. Ultimately, Martin's book is a love letter to "Guernica," one of the most imoprtant works of 20th century art. It is a truly splendid book!
I liked the history in this book, and some of the vivid imagery the author describes. It's not fantastic but does give some insight into the times and life of the artist.
Details the conflict in Spain, and the managing and painting of Guernica.
Jul 02, 2007 Hannah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Art lovers
The book is brain candy for art/Spanish history buffs and Picasso lovers alike. It delves into the history of the Spanish Civil War, Picasso's private and public lives, and the impetus for one of his most legenday paintings, Guernica.
Pete Cochran
Very very good book! I just pulled it off the Library shelf... no reason to my choice... It is very wonderful... I can pretend to be more facinating than I really am with the History lesson this book provided me.
Oct 20, 2007 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: realists and cubists alike
what are we doing to ourselves???? "painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war." Picasso

started reading this while standing in front of Guernica in Madrid....amazing
Pretty cool story. Not amazing writing, but it gets the job done. Kind of slow at times, but it definitely deepened my appreciation for Guernica (both the town and the painting).
It's a little difficult to get through. I love political history but at times it feels like the author is trying to squeeze in all the information he has just for the sake of doing so.
The life and times of Guernica. The author delves into the political situation that was a precursor to this famous painting, the life of the painting, and the life of Picasso.
Required reading for an art history class. It was kind of...entry-level for a hardcore history major, so that colors my opinion. Too simplistic.
This was a well written, informative, and creative perspective on the Spanish Civil War. Painful in parts, but that is as it should be.
Sympathetic and informative story about an historical event I new very little about - not too much art talk, good narrative style.
Art history book on Picasso's Guernica. Good history lesson on Spanish Civil War and the invent that inspired the painting.
I remember reading this and concluding that the price of anything, not just liberty, is eternal vigilance.
Interesting interplay of history and art: a bit dry at points, but still a quick, great read.
A fascinating book about the genesis of Picasso's 'Guernica'and where and how it was exhibited.
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