Artibus et Historiae no. 44 (XXII)

2001, ISSN 0391-9064

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JÖRG TRAEGER - Picasso's Guernica. A Union of Avant-Garde and Democracy

Modern art has reflected the struggle between democracy and totalitarism in different ways. The most important expression of this is Picasso's Guernica (1937). Inspired by the Civil War in Spain but based on the liberal structure of the artist's political personality, the picture has an open and universal meaning. Despite of Picasso's strong political involvement against Franco, Guernica avoids any partialism. It is a symbol not only against war in general, but also of individual - and therefore democratic - freedom. This corresponds with the fact that the republican government of Spain had not exerted any influence on the contents or stylistic features of the work. At the Paris World Fair of 1937 Guernica stood in a fundamental and systematic contrast with the artistic contributions of the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. According to Picasso's will, Guernica's coming home to Spain was linked with the reestablishment of democracy in the country.

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