Monday, March 11, 2019
Guernica and the Torture of Politics Essay
When Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) painted Guernica (1) in 1937, the painting was non only a pictorial documentation on the horrors that took place on a small Basque town in northern Spain on April 26th, 1937, hardly a testament to the tragedy of all war that humankind honorarium upon itself. Picasso says he becomed the painting to bring the worlds attention to the Spanish civil war and to General Francos unusually cruel tactic to try and win this war. In the case of Guernica, this painting has monumental governmental significance and is still viewed today as greatest anti-war symbol of our time.This massive, mural- surface painting (11 ft. tall by 25 ft. wide) is painted in oil colour and currently on exhibit at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. Even if we have the semi policy-making significance of this nearly monochromatic painting, we are still left hand with one of Picassos masterpieces of cubist composition. The twisted, disjointed figures undulating across the canvas cre ate a tapestry of suffering in sharp contrasts of black, white and blue. The Spanish Republican government commissioned Picasso in 1937 to create a astronomical mural painting to help bring to the light the misery of the Spanish Civil War to an international audience.Rather than seeing this very political commission as a limitation, Picasso embraced this opportunity as a computer program to use his mastery of oil painting to affect political and frequent opinion. Even those who are Basque or Franco sympathizers can not escape from the indistinct sadness and despair they are confronted with in this painting. In no centering is this paintings political tie a limitation to its greatness. Picassos Guernica has been exhibited throughout the world, viewed by millions, and many would argue that this was Picassos greatest achievement.Fast-forward 70 years to 2007 Different machinationists, different politics, different wars. No longer does the universal populous receive its informati on in newspapers or the radio as they did in 1937. Our access to information is now instant and mainlined. In 2004 accounts of overrefinement, buggery and rape at the Abu Ghraib army prison in Iraq began to surface. The world, including its artists began to react. Richard Serra (born 1939) created a serial publication of litho-crayon plans depicting a scene of an Abu Ghraib prisoner being tortured (2), implements of war outstretched equal a Christ figure, with the words Stop scrub on either side of his hooded face.The Whitney Museum of American Art used images of this sketch for posters of their 2006 Whitney Biennial at a time when America was still late divided over the continuance of this war. This mass-produced, photographic image had become a symbol of the anti-war movement in the United States. But unlike Picassos Guernica, Serra is working directly from a photograph of the actual event, simplifying it into a cartoon like image. Thus, Serras anti-war statement does not appear to be a timeless piece of art as Picassos did. If we take extraneous the political significance from Serras drawings we are left with a compositionally strict subject.The politics must be included in Serras drawings for us to have an appreciation (or hatred, depending on your political view) of it. This is, perhaps, intentional on Serras part, being a minimalist sculptor, to strip the very concept of torture and war down to its most essential parts. The speed at which Serra created this drawing is parallel to our contemporary, insatiable appetite for news and information. It is possible that Serra wanted this drawing, like the actual photographic image itself, to be ephemeral viewed and discarded to make for way for the next headline.In conclusion, the political art that can order itself with our speed of information will be the political art that is favored in the future. Like it or not, we are all involved in politics in some way and affected by the decisions our gove rnments make. If art is a mirror of our surroundings, then at some point its going to cross over into the realm of politics. We can only go for that our contemporary artists will utilize the same care and skills to create political work with mature political significance rather than first-idea, sophomoric vision.