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Compare and Contrast Picasso's Guernica Painting and Pollock's Number 1a Painting

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In 1937, the Spanish government commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a mural for the 1937 World Fair in Paris, France. Picasso painted Guernica, a large, oil-based mural

Spain placed the 26’x11′ mural at the entrance of their pavilion. Picasso found inspiration from reading about the bombing of Guernica, Spain by the German Air Force. The oil-based painting, however, is not a thorough portrayal of the consequence of war, but does deliver the agony and pain of the Spanish people of Guernica. Picasso emphasizes the misery of the people rather than focusing on the entire incident.

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During this period Fascism was also on the rise. A second world war seemed the inevitable culmination of tense divisions within Europe between opposing Fascist and anti-Fascist camps

In this atmosphere of political strife, Pablo Picasso began to look for ways to instil the heretofore private symbols in his art with new, public meanings, to look for a way in which his work could contribute to the cause of the Left. In this context, Picasso’s work took on a political significance, and this significance energized his work. Picasso’s art making practices reflected his dynamic personality and artistic genius. Picasso’s ability to draw on a number of diverse disciplines and sources for inspiration provided him with the impetus he needed to continually take his art to the next level. Paul Jackson Pollock, famous for his drip paintings, worked 30 years after Picasso and was vividly aware of Picasso and his work. Pollock was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, who was largely affected by world war two. Although the war did not directly affect him, what did was the shift of the ‘art centre’ of the world moving at this time from Paris to New York. Evidently it is clear that the individual practices of Picasso and Pollock show how their views, choices and actions have been affected by their world. In 1937, the Spanish Republican government asked Picasso to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Universal Exposition that year in Paris. Inspiration came in April, in the form of the horrific aerial bombing by the Fascists of the town of Guernica. The monumental canvas that resulted depicted a massacre of the innocents in the black-and-white tones of newspapers and newsreels, and filled with historical and political allusions and expressive force, Guernica became an icon and the last real history painting. Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. When considering an originator of Cubism, there were nonetheless several recurrent themes in Picasso’s work. Instead of using traditional battle imagery as visual inspiration for Guernica, Picasso turned to the familiar arena of the Spanish bullring. According to art historian Patricia Failing “The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. ” The central figure in Guernica is a horse run through with a javelin, wrenched in agony which is interpreted as the horse of Franco’s Nationalism, with Picasso predicting its downfall. Evidently it is apparent that Picasso was highly influenced the circumstances in his world that affected his views, choices and actions in creating ‘Guernica’.

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Cubism greatly changed how art was perceived. Conventional painters were confused by the emerging style of art. Unlike conventional works of art, Cubism did not focus on translating objects naturally but emotionally. Cubism led to works of art that were more oriented towards aesthetic rather than expressing reality (Gantefuhrer-Trier & Grosenick 53). The new style of art led to great change in producing works of art that were outrageously different from the conventional works of art. It represented a new and different way of perceiving and representing the world

Cubists’ way of representing objects was very different. It tendency to totally distort landscapes and portraits attracted attention to itself leading to development of the new style of art. The uniqueness of cubism was largely due to its tendency to view a subject from multiple perspectives, leading to a distorted work of art. In Cubism, objects were first broken down and the then re-assembled in abstract form upon analysis. Cubists used multiple viewpoints in order to represent the subject in a broader contest. The surfaces of dissected objects intersected at random angles. Another distinct feature in cubist work of art was the tendency of the background and object planes to interpenetrate one another. This led to a thin ambiguous space that distinguished Cubism work of art from other works of art. Cubism was developed in two major phases resulting in the two major branches of Cubism. These include analytic and synthetic cubism. Analytic cubism was developed between 1007 and 1911. Most of it was from Picasso and Braque’s works. The second phase of development of cubism lasted from 1911 to 1919 leading to Synthetic cubism. Analytic cubism was the first form and the foundation of cubism. Natural forms drawn in elementary geometric parts characterized analytic cubism. Analytic Cubism analyzed natural forms breaking them down to basic parts. They did not use color in their paintings except for monochromatic scheme mostly involving blue, grew and ochre.The analysts focused more on basic geometric forms derived from the natural forms, rather than color (Gantefuhrer-Trier & Grosenick 91). In this first phase of cubism, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s works of art were almost related. Later, the cubist artists led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque adopted abstraction where they would create works of art that were highly detached from reality.

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To summarize, Picasso’s Guernica in the Style of Jackson Pollock (Essay II), 1980-2019, is a large rectangular work on paper, where the powerful and dramatic painting by Picasso Guernica is disguised as a Pollock-like painting. The work was not produced by means of the ‘literal’ use of Pollock’s well known technique. It is rather a drawing in which drips and spatters are represented or depicted. The drawing is made with Indian ink on 114 sheets of Teslin, printed with essays and texts written by the artists themselves between 1980 and 2016.

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Gantefuhrer-Trier, Ann and Grosenick, Uta. Cubism. New York: Taschen, 2004. Print.

Hess, Barbara. Abstract Expressionism. New York: Taschen America LLC, 2009. Print

Hunter, Sam, Jacobus, John and Wheeler, Daniel. Modern art: Painting, sculpture, architecture, photography. New York: Prentice Hall, 2004.

Moffat, Charles. The most Famous Artist of the 20th Century. 2005. Web.

Wyo, Cody. Jackson Pollock: Pioneer in Abstract Panting. 2003. Web.

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