The Art of War
"No, painting is not made to decorate apartments: it's an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy."
Simon Schama on Picasso's Guernica, this Friday, 9pm, on BBC2.
On the trailer for The Power of Art, they mention the "unexpected end" to the story of Guernica. As far as I know there are two details about the painting which give it contemporary meaning:
- The dispute over where it should reside.
Madrid (traditionally part of Castillan Spain) wants it as Picasso is Spain's most reknown - and critically acclaimed - artist. Bilbao want it because it represents the destruction of the ancient capital of the Basque region.
- The controversy when the UN covered a tapestry of it so it would not be in shot when Colin Powell discussed Iraq.
When people ask why bother with the history of art, it is this on-going interaction of art and society which is interesting. That is how a work from 1937 can still carry weight and meaning nearly 70 years after its painting.