Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Editorial credit: spatuletail / A Spanish stamp honoring Guernica.
Editorial credit: spatuletail / A Spanish stamp honoring Guernica.

Guernica is a world renowned piece of art created by the great Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. It was painted as an anti-war art piece during the civil war in Spain in 1937. The painting is a lasting symbol of the negative effects of war.

Background of Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was born on October 25th, 1881 in the Spanish city of Malaga. His father, José Ruiz y Blasco, was a skilled painter, art professor, and a curator of a neighboring museum. From his early years, Picasso had an interest in drawing. His father trained him in drawing and painting. Picasso was admitted into one of the best art schools in Spain when he was 13 years. He dropped out of the school soon after joining it due to boredom. As he grew old, Picasso moved between cities such Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris looking for opportunities to express his talent. His artistic journey went through varying stages. Between 1900 and 1904, Picasso experienced a lot of hardship and depression. It was referred to as the ‘Blue Period’. During this period, his paintings were predominantly done in shades of blue and green as an expression of the difficulties he encountered. Starting 1905, Picasso had a better life. He overcame depression and the hardships he suffered early. The new period is referred to as the ‘Rose Period’. Picasso’s most acclaimed art piece, Guernica, was drawn at a time when Spain experienced political upheavals.


At the start of 1937, the Spanish government assigned Picasso the task of creating an art piece for display at the Spanish Pavilion during the World Fair in Paris later in the year. For the first four months, Picasso lacked inspiration for the painting. He toyed around with ideas until the attack on Guernica on April 26th 1937. The devastation caused by the attack angered Picasso and he decided to do a painting on it. He started working on the painting on May 1st, 1937 and it took him three months to complete.

Legacy of Guernica

Guernica is undeniably a great painting. It is one of the most memorable political statements displayed on a painting. When it was unveiled at the world fair in July 1937, the painting received little attention. After the world fair, Guernica went on a world tour in Europe and the US where it gained notable recognition. Guernica displays a variety of images including a bull, a horse, and several women in different positions. All the creatures on the painting looked horrified. There are numerous interpretations of the painting.

Current Location

Guernica is displayed at the Spanish Art museum Reina Sofía. For the longest time, Guernica was safely kept in a museum in New York City upon Picasso’s request. The Museum of Modern Art was the safe custody for Guernica until 1981 when the painting was moved to Spain. Picasso insisted that Guernica should remain in the US until Spain attained full democracy.

Financial Worth of Guernica

Pablo Picasso was paid 200,000 Francs by the Spanish government for painting Guernica. Currently, Guernica is owned by the Spanish government. Due to the significance of the painting, Guernica must be worth several million US dollars.


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