In 1937, Pablo Picasso painted Guernica, oil on canvas. The Republican Spanish government commissioned the mural for the 1937 World Fair in Paris. Guernica is a large mural, twenty-six feet wide and eleven feet tall, and was placed at the entrance to Spain’s pavilion. Picasso did not do any work after receiving the commission until reading of the bombing of the Basque village of Guernica, in Spain. It was that attack, perpetrated by the German Luftwaffe, that inspired him. Guernica, however, is not a complete depiction of that event. In Guernica, Picasso masterfully conveys the suffering of the Basque people and the tragedy of war. He seeks not to report on every detail of the bombing, but only to highlight the suffering by all.
On first viewing Picasso’s Guernica, one initially focuses on the center of the mural. Many lines cross or meet near the middle of the work. There are two major diagonal lines crossing Guernica. They start at the two botto...