Crafted by the painter and wielded by the affected viewer, painting is a weapon of war. The sympathetic viewers of the total destruction depicted in Picasso’s Guernica have easily found reason to acquit Picasso of hostile intentions in painting a scene where the very horrors of war are presented in a flagrantly real manner. For many the image is viewed as a symbol of peace. While that perspective stands as a legitimate explanation of the work’s purpose, it does not completely address Picasso’s purpose.
In an age where war is ill-favored next to even the possibility of peace and art of the modern era is widely acknowledged to present an entirely relative and subjective purpose, there is one man who, favoring a blatantly abrasive approach, creates a conflict by depicting a conflict itself. Picasso, a man hailed as perhaps the greatest of modernist painters, makes a work in order to explicitly incite conflict.
Here exists conflict not only in terms of form, but also in terms of the subject matter presented to the public through the work. Yet another important aspect of this ‘conflict’ is the strife Picasso faces within himself in relation to his painting, a conflict that can be observed through the discrepancies in the statements he made regarding specific aspects of this painting.
Although this aspect of what may appear to be the modernist beginnings of ‘nonconformity’ that continues into post-modernism, it becomes important to note that the very basis in which this characteristic is rooted is not simply in defiance of the established status quo, but in warlike conflict with it.
David Szczepanski, ’05 Des Plaines , IL
Sponsor: Christina McOmber