Guernica

By | April 26, 2009


Seventy-two years ago today, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, on April 26th, 1937, the Basque town of Guernica was carpet bombed by Fascist Italian and Nazi German forces. Three-quarters of Guernica was destroyed, and as many as 1,600 civilians were killed. The Spanish Republican government had commissioned Pablo Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at Paris International Exposition in the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. Guernica, an 11 ft tall and 7.8 25.6 ft wide canvas, was installed in June. Picasso’s Guernica can be a springboard to a larger discussion about the tragedy of war, which we usually cover in lesson seven of the Class of Nonviolence.

The peaceCENTER has two videos that go into immense detail about Picasso’s painting. “Pablo Picasso’s Guernica” (Kultur, 1999, 45 minutes) is only available on VHS. It is part of the “Discovery of Art” series and although dry, is thorough and informative. Easier to find – and much livelier – is the Picasso episode in Simon Schama’s “Power of Art” (BBC, 2007, 1 hour.) We’ve just ordered a third film – “Treasures of the World- Guernica: Testimony of War,” (PBS Home Video, 1999) that we have been eager to review.

This 9-minute video is an excerpt from “The Bombing of Gernika: The Mark of Man.” It includes a strange and compelling animation at the beginning, plus interviews with three survivors of the bombing.

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