This compact book (between the sizes of a CD and a DVD case) is an equally compact introduction to the story of Picasso's murAn Exercise in Compaction
This compact book (between the sizes of a CD and a DVD case) is an equally compact introduction to the story of Picasso's mural, "Guernica".
It's divided into ten sections:
2. Picasso and the 1937 Paris World's Fair
3. The Bombing of Guernica
4. Women's Heads
5. Mother and Child
6. Horses, Bulls and the Minotaur
7. Franco and the Fallen Warrior
8. Compositional Studies
9. Guernica: The Finished Work
10. The Story of Guernica after 1937.
Given the compact size of the book, there are only a few hundred words in each section. This is not an in-depth analysis.
The book consists of about eight leaves, each of which unfolds either horizontally or vertically (or both).
This allows scope for not just pictures of the finished work, but of many sketches, details and schematics.
As a result, you get a good summary of the process Picasso adopted to paint the work.
I bought the book at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid as a souvenir of a visit to the Museum in January, 2017. The original mural and many related works were displayed in a more expansive exhibition on art relating to the Spanish Civil War.
An exhibition relating specifically to Picasso will start in April, 2017:
I can't remember why, but "Guernica" has been one of my favourite works for over 45 years. However, until recently, I wasn't aware of how much additional work went into its composition and how much it owed to subjects of his earlier works.
The text of this book summarises it as follows:
"At the same time as he began planning the overall design, Picasso produced a rapid and fascinating succession of sketches to explore key issues such as victim versus oppressor, anguish suffered by the innocent, personal pain, and icons of national identity. Many of the images had occurred in earlier work, but now they were imbued with a new sense of rigour and urgency. Today they provide an extraordinary guide to the ensemble that is 'Guernica'."
Recurrence of Subjects and Themes
The recurrence of themes became more apparent when I visited the Museu Picasso in Barcelona.
It seems that, all through his creative life, he repeated themes and works, until he had either got them right or was happy with them. As a result, you can see him refine works or develop them into something new and different and worthy.
This is important, because while the final work must stand or fall on its own, it is insightful to see what led up to it.
"Guernica" was the result of an invitation to submit a work to the Spanish Pavillion in the 1937 Paris World's Fair.
While Picasso procrastinated for a few months after he accepted the commission, he then worked on schematics that laid the foundation for the final work.
Having conceived the work in its entirety, he then started work on its component parts.
This book describes the mural as an ensemble, which is a good description of its composite character.
Whatever you might have read about the picture, nothing prepares you for its physical dimensions. It's actually enormous (whereas "Mona Lisa" is much smaller than you would expect).
This book helps you to understand the component parts:
* the women's heads
* the mother and her dead child
* the bull
* the horse
* the fallen warrior.
As a result, your eyes can wander around the mural with greater perception....more