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Analysis of piccasso’s “guernica” Essay

The piece is made up of light and dark objects. The objects in stark white are the ones that are immediately observed. The first thing that was noticed in this piece was the head of the bull-like animal. From there the eye of the viewer seems to be directed towards the woman and her child, the horse-like animal and the figure on the floor is noticed in the end. The light bulb and the candle emerge later. The piece seems to have been organized along the direction of the viewer’s eye-movement. Each figure leads the eye to the next figure.

The bull and the lady with her child seem to be the focal points in the piece. It is interesting that the figures that seem to be in focus lie in the background. There seems to be a decided division between foreground and background. The bull-like animal was the first thing to be noticed, since it’s figure represented the coming together of light and dark most starkly- it has a decidedly white head, neck and chest and a decidedly dark body. The eye then naturally moves to the woman, being just below the head of the bull.

Every other figure seems to be in duality, except that of the woman with her child-they are the only ones in complete white. From here the eye seems to move towards the darker area of the piece and the head of the horse-like creature comes into focus, in contrast to both these figures. THE METHOD STEP 1: EXACT REPETITIONS: The heads of some figures are lighter than their bodies X 3 Most of the mouths are open X 4 Human hands are stretched out and open X 2 There are a number of spiked images: tongues, ears of animals, horns; the light from the bulb X4 STEP 2: STRANDS:

White areas seem to bring out emotive details; therefore the emotion of the woman and her child are represented in their entire bodies. The various figures display a reaction to something: the figures in the foreground seem to be attempting to flee away from something; also, both figures seem terrified – they represent a scene of confusion. The woman and her child seem to have become victims. The piece seems to represent an aftermath The open mouths seem to represent the presence of a lot of noise in the piece – it is loud – the emotion displayed is violent.

STEP 3: ORGANIZING CONTRASTS: The light and the dark itself represent a contrast – the dark sets the atmosphere of gloom while the light focuses on emotional reaction to it. The child is in stark contrast to all the other images in being passive. It is the only figure in the piece that does not have an open mouth or open eyes – the binary of passivity and action; perhaps even life and death may be revealed through this. The figures of the woman and her child are completely white as against the other figures, which are in dual shades.

This throws the woman and the child into focus, as well as the difference in the emotion here – one of abject sorrow as against terror in the figures in the foreground. STEP 4: The contrast between the light and the dark represents the most important binary in this piece. The mood of the piece is set through the darkness and the white enhances the important aspects of this mood. The most important aspect of the piece – the expressions on the faces of the figures- is highlighted by this contrast and the least important aspects fade into the background.

Only when these expressions are highlighted will the fact that they display a reaction be deduced. Also, the woman and her child become the focal point of the piece since they are the only figures in complete light. All this has been achieved through the contrast of dark and light. STEP 5: The anomaly in the piece seems to be the figure of the child – the only figure in complete passivity. The posture of the child and the expression on its face seem to convey peace. This may represent the binary of life and death – the peace in death as against the sorrows that life holds. ANALYSIS:

The scene being depicted here seems to be one of violence and noise. The figures in this piece seem to be the victims of a violent occurrence. The figures in the foreground seem to be fleeing away from something. Terror is evident on their faces and in their postures. There is an intense confusion in the scene at the foreground, a scene of violent motion. The woman and her child seem to be victims of this terror. There is sorrow on the woman’s face and she seems to be crying out in intense agony. The lack of expression or life on the child’s face seems to convey that the child is dead.

It may be concluded that the motherhood of the woman or her role of nurturer has been violated, this being observed in the display of her breasts and the child in her arms. Her outstretched hand seems to be reaching out for a reason – she seems to be questioning a deity and her drooping posture seems to convey defeat. Another conclusion may be that she is not able to provide for her child – either because it is dead or because she lacks the resources. The artist seems to be depicting an aftermath or highlighting the effect of something.

It may be that this is a piece against war or violence of any kind. At a different angle, focus on the face of the child will reveal a different kind of subject. It is evident that there is peace on the face of the child, in complete contrast to the violence on the faces and figures of those around it. Assuming that the child is dead, this depiction of peace may point to death being preferred to life. Life has been depicted as being full of sorrow and terror. Thus, the artist may be suggesting that death and the peace it brings is to be preferred to life, which is full of sorrow, terror and loss.


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