As an art teacher and artist, I find Pablo Picasso’s Guernica to be one of the most compelling and thought-provoking works of art in history. The painting depicts the horrific bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, and it captures the chaos, pain, and destruction of war in a way that is both powerful and poignant.

One of the reasons that Guernica is such a remarkable work of art is its wabisabiness. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that values imperfection, impermanence, and the beauty of natural decay. While Picasso was not Japanese, his work often reflected this aesthetic, and Guernica is a prime example of his wabisabiness.

In Guernica, Picasso uses a combination of techniques to create a sense of impermanence and decay. The painting is monochromatic, with shades of black, white, and gray dominating the composition. This lack of color gives the painting a sense of timelessness, as though it could have been painted at any point in history.

Picasso also uses a fractured, Cubist style to depict the various elements of the painting. The horse, bull, and human figures are broken apart into geometric shapes, with jagged lines and sharp angles. This fragmentation creates a sense of chaos and dislocation, as though the painting is falling apart before our eyes.

But despite the fractured, disjointed nature of the painting, there is also a sense of beauty and harmony in Guernica. The composition is carefully balanced, with each element placed in just the right position to create a sense of tension and movement. The horse and bull, for example, are placed at opposite ends of the painting, creating a sense of opposition and conflict.

Overall, I believe that Picasso’s Guernica is a perfect example of wabisabiness in art. It captures the impermanence and decay of war, while also finding beauty and harmony in the midst of chaos. As a work of art, Guernica is both haunting and inspiring, and it continues to be a testament to the power of art to make sense of the world around us.


7 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Wabi-Sabi-ness of Picasso’s Guernica

  1. Picasso was commissioned to do the painting and well paid. Picasso was never an activist of any sort. But the painting is used as an anti-war statement. I love the work and have gone to see it at the Reina Sofia several times, but…

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      1. Thank you. In my opinion he did it for the money as he never got involved in any acts of political activities, not even when he painted the supposed dove of peace, which he actually painted a pigeon. Picasso painted his environment, his family, wives, lovers and children. All the best.

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      2. I know, I felt my professors only mentioned what they were into and never about many of the artists I’ve been featuring in VALENCIARTIST who are mainly women artists and never mentioned at uni… an artist must find his own way and his own knowledge because now all they’re doing in schools is indoctrination.

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      3. I can’t completely disagree with that… here we often say the benefit of having many different teachers is you get many different perspectives… but I feel that isn’t as obvious now as it was before the digital age of indoctrination that increasingly standardizes the information we receive… unless, we make the effort to dig deeper. That being said, could you please add some links to where you got the info about Picasso’s commissions on Guernica and The Dove?

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