Lena Gieseke‘s 3-D animation examines the details of Pablo Picasso‘s giant black and white painting ‘Guernica’.

Picasso painted ‘Guernica‘ in response to the German Luftwaffe’s and the Italian Fascist Aviazione Legionaria’s aerial bombing of the Basque town, Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War in April 1937.  Between 200 and 400 innocent civillians were slaughtered in the attack, which led to the Fascists, under Genral Franco, to defeat the Republicans, and seize control of Spain.

Originally commissioned by the Spanish Republican government for the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques la Vie Moderne‘ in Paris, ‘Guernica’ became a symbol of the harrowing tragedies and suffering the Civil War inflicted on the innocent.  As he worked on the mural, Picasso was quoted as saying:

“The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? … In the panel on which I am working, which I shall callGuernica, 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.”

After the ‘Exposition’, Picasso refused to allow the painting to return to Spain, until the country was  a Republic once again.  Between 1939 and the late 1950s ‘Guernica’ toured the world as a symbol against war.  At Picasso’s request the painting was then exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, where it remained until Franco’s death in 1975, and negotiations began to have ‘Guernica’ returned to home, which eventually happened in 1981.

There is a story that while Picasso was in Nazi-occupied Paris, during World War II, he was asked by a member of the Gestapo, upon seeing a postcard of ‘Guernica’ in the artist’s studio, ‘”Did you do that?” To which Picasso responded, “No, you did.”

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