Friday, November 11, 2011


Picasso’s masterpiece, Guernica, produced in reaction to Spanish Civil War, is a great example of artwork that could be dismissed as self-expressive indulgence. It repulses; the work is grotesque and ugly. You may hate it and denounce Picasso as a fraud, saying: “My five-year-old can do better!”

This post might change your mind.

"Guernica" was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, in Basque Country, by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish Civil War--following a directive by the Spanish Nationalist forces. Picasso, living in Nazi-occupied Paris, was outraged, and painted it out. Then the Gestapo came around one day, in their harassment of the artist. One officer, seeing a photo of Guernica in Picasso's apartment, asked him, "Did you do that?"

Picasso's response: "No, you did."

The work went on to gain incredible status and an international anti-war symbol. It helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world's attention.

Ever since hearing this story, Guernica has captivated me. I love what Picasso said with it--in three words. The piece communicates what no history book could. And as 'ugly' as it may seem visually, I can no longer see it that way, but as something beautiful in what it communicated.

And I have relived that experience countless times, as I’ve talked with artists, writers and poets. I do not always ‘get’ their work, but when I start talking about it with the artist, I am routinely captured. Sure, there are the narcissists, the arrogant, and the egocentric artists out there, but most of the time I hear humility, sensitivity, process and depth.

So, have I convinced you? Ready to get out there and talk to an artist?!

If you don’t already do this, by all means, start! Poetic awe awaits you...

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