‘Guernica’ Did Nothing—Which Is Why It Still Matters
Picasso's Masterpiece Teaches Us How Antiwar Art's Power Lies in This Paradox
This month marks the anniversary of one of the many atrocities of the last century carried out in the cause of nationalism. On Monday, April 26, 1937, less than a year after dissident Spanish generals launched a coup d’état against a democratically elected coalition government, German and Italian airplanes bombed Gernika, in the Basque Country of Spain.
Within a week, Pablo Picasso commenced the mural-sized painting— “Guernica,” using the Spanish rendering of the Basque town’s name—that now stands as the exemplar among artists’ public opposition to war.
There was no military reason …