Why did the artist Pablo Picasso paint Guernica?

Pablo Picasso chose a tragic historical event as the subject of his commission for the Spanish Pavilion in order to denounce the horrors of war. The scene he depicted was the bombing of the small Spanish town of Guernica on 26 April 1937 by German planes from the Nazi Condor Legion.

Indeed, when the Spanish Civil War broke out, the painter’s work took on a more political dimension as he became more politically engaged. His most iconic political work remains the colossal, legendary painting that is Guernica. Featuring a limited palette of white, grey and black shades and angular figures, the gigantic painting was exhibited as part of the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. The exhibition caused a sensation and the work, along with its various studies, travelled throughout Europe and the United States in 1938 and 1939.

You can also visit the painter Pablo Picasso’s dedicated page to learn more about his life and artworks.

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