Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” (1937) was commissioned by the Spanish Republican government to be displayed at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. Though he did not say so, Picasso saw “Guernica” as his greatest attempt at establishing peace in the world. It failed on that account. As a result, he took on a protective and negative attitude about art criticism, saying that only the artist can appreciate the meaning of his art. He used violence effectively and showed that it can be the key element in exploiting political motives. Being a communist and atheist, he insulted his capitalist audience with imagery that lacked spirituality, showing how humanity can be evil and self-destructive. On first viewing, one might interpret the light bulb in “Guernica” as a symbol of hope, but in actuality it is a bombilla (Sp for bulb), a bomb in the sky ready to explode.
Picasso’s attempt at creating an effective anti-war painting was unsuccessful, as WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq have shown. In looking at art in a postmodern way, I have appropriated “Guernica” on a smaller scale (22”x48”), though in proportion to the original (137.4”x305.5”), therefore, reducing its significance as a means to a greater end. The medium is contemporary acrylic, as opposed to traditional oil. I superimposed two children taken from Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize photograph of Phan Thi Kim Phúc (1972), as well as an Iraqi man, all three realistic figures in contrast with Picasso’s grotesque, Iberian images. The incorporation of photographs taken by other people opens up the question of originality, which does not exist in a postmodern world, the existent being more important than the imaginary.