Skip to main content
Select Source:

Guernica

Guernica (gārnē´kä), historic town (1990 pop. 16,422), Vizcaya prov., N Spain, in the Basque region. It has metallurgical, furniture, and food manufacturers, and some tourism. The oak of Guernica, under which the diet of Vizcaya used to meet, is a symbol of the lost liberties of the Basques. In Apr., 1937, German planes, aiding the insurgents in the Spanish civil war, bombed and destroyed Guernica. The indiscriminate killing of women and children aroused world opinion, and the bombing of Guernica became a symbol of fascist brutality. The event inspired one of Picasso's most celebrated paintings. Guernica is also called Guernica y Luno.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Guernica." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Guernica." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

"Guernica." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Guernica

Guernica Town in Vizcaya province, n Spain. It is a centre of Basque nationalism. The bombing of Guernica's civilian population by German aircraft during the Spanish Civil War inspired Picasso's masterpiece Guernica (1937).

http://www.spanisharts.com/reinasofia/reinasofia.htm

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Guernica." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Guernica." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

"Guernica." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Guernica

Guernica a town in the Basque Provinces of northern Spain, to the east of Bilbao. Formerly the seat of a Basque parliament, it was bombed in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, by German planes in support of Franco, an event depicted in a famous painting by Picasso.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Guernica." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Guernica." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/guernica

"Guernica." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/guernica

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Guernica

Guernicabicker, clicker, dicker, flicker, kicker, liquor, nicker, picker, pricker, shicker, slicker, snicker, sticker, ticker, tricker, vicar, whicker, Wicca, wicker •bilker, milker, Rilke •blinker, clinker, drinker, finca, freethinker, Glinka, Inca, inker, jinker, shrinker, sinker, Soyinka, stinker, stotinka, thinker, tinker, Treblinka, winker •frisker, whisker •kibitka, Sitka •Cyrenaica • Bandaranaike •perestroika • Baedeker • melodica •Boudicca • trafficker • angelica •replica •basilica, silica •frolicker, maiolica, majolica •bootlicker • res publica • mimicker •Anneka • arnica • Seneca • Lineker •picnicker •electronica, harmonica, Honecker, japonica, Monica, moniker, Salonica, santonica, veronica •Guernica • Africa • paprika •America, erica •headshrinker • Armorica • brassica •Jessica • lip-syncer • fossicker •Corsica •Attica, hepatica, sciatica, viatica •Antarctica • billsticker •erotica, exotica •swastika

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Guernica." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Guernica." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/guernica-0

"Guernica." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/guernica-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Guernica

GUERNICA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In 1937 Spain was in the midst of a civil war which had begun in 1936 between the left-wing government of the Second Republic (made up of a coalition of Socialists, Republicans, and reformists) and its supporters, and right-wing insurgents, known as Nationalists. With the active help of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and aided by French and British indecisiveness, Spanish Nationalist generals, with their head, General Emilio Mola, mounted a new offensive, directed against civilian targets, on 31 March 1937. A German Luftwaffe squadron known as the Condor Legion, under the command of the future Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen, carried out the attacks: one by one, the cities of Guernica, Bilbao, and Gijón were destroyed, leaving the Basque Country in ruins. The bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937, which killed mostly women, children, and the elderly, stunned the world.

In response to a command issued by the Spanish Republican government, in June 1937 Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) presented, at the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris International Exposition, a painting laden with a mere three somber tones: black, gray, and white. Its title was Guernica (782 × 351 cm), a canvas unsigned, undated, and unframed, painted in Ripolin, an industrial paint. More than just a masterpiece, Guernica expresses the suffering and barbarity of war. Guernica has remained a tour de force because Picasso was so successful at signifying the meaning of a historical event by overlaying autobiographical elements onto allusions to the massacres and to death itself. However, in its depiction of the upheaval of an entire society, Guernica does more than merely mark an event. This canvas, completed just days after the bombardment of the Basque village Guernica by the Junker 52s and Heinkel 51s of the Condor Legion, gave Picasso the opportunity to pick up his brushes again in a way that synthesized his recent output with earlier exploratory works such as La Corrida (1933) and Minotauromachy (1935).

The point of departure for these pieces was Picasso's desire to construct a personalized mythological iconography that conveyed highly readable meanings through shapes that bordered on the irrational. Guernica was the result of a long process that transpired through numerous preparatory works, in particular the two series of etched engravings entitled Dream and Lie of Franco, I and II (1937). The detailing and positioning of the figures on the canvas is arranged into eight stages completed between 11 May and 4 June 1937, documented with the aid of photographs taken by Picasso's companion Dora Maar (1907–1997). Picasso chose not to literally retranscribe the massacre—there are no planes or bombs, but the name he chose belies any alternate interpretation of its subject. In this way he transferred the event into a more complex space insofar as its plot unfolds in the interval between inside (the light fixture, the window, and the door) and outside. The tragedy occurs in an intermediary place where animals and women are icons of universal suffering. Picasso played with lighting in order to dramatize his composition, which was founded on nuances of gray that work together to forge a differentiation between planes and volumes. This is why the principal characters are bathed in bright light, including the bull, the horse, the warrior, and the four women: the woman with the child, the woman falling, the fleeing woman, and the woman by the lamp. These figures contrast with the remaining elements, which are darker, each assuming a place within a central triangle, on both sides of which two other triangles are drawn, encased within two white vertical stripes.

Guernica has elicited numerous interpretations, most notably concerning the symbolic significance of the characters and about the canvas's chromatic oppositions, which appear to be an attempt to re-create photographs that appeared in the press. Picasso avoided saying anything explicit in this regard in public, remaining content to reaffirm his support for the Spanish Republic. The author Michel Leiris, however, summed up the message and importance of Guernica in a few simple lines: "In a black and white rectangle like the appearance of a Greek Tragedy, Picasso is sending us our letter of mourning: Everything we love is going to die, and this is why it was necessary that everything we love be encapsulated, like the effusion of some grand adieux, in something unforgettably beautiful" (Leiris, p. 128; translated from the French).

After World War II, Picasso produced numerous paintings, lithographs, posters, and ceramic sculptures, but created just one solitary work connected to the war. As he himself would say: "I did not paint the War because I do not belong to that class of painters who go out in search of a subject like a photographer does" (Daix, p. 280; translated from the French). He did nonetheless finish one painting entitled Le Charnier (Mass grave), dated 1945, following the discovery of the concentration camps, which utilizes the same underlying assumptions as those used to produce Guernica. Le Charnier is not about depicting the horror of the camps, but instead concerns transposing this reality into the iconography of a painter in search of the universal. The painting's expository context was also the focal point for numerous polemics. Many other of Picasso's works, such as L'Aubade (The dawn serenade) from 1942, contained underlying allusions to World War II. However, in 1951 Picasso produced a much more explicit painting based on the famous execution scenes by Francisco de Goya (1746–1928) and Edouard Manet (1832–1883) and titled Massacre in Korea, but it did not enjoy to the same success as Guernica.

Guernica's destiny echoed the political turmoil of the era—it was shown in Norway, then in London, after which it spent time in New York, before coming to rest in the Prado Museum, the venue Picasso himself had wished for it. Guernica 's travels were not limited by geography, however—its trek continued on film, when it became the primary object of an eponymous movie directed by Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens in 1950.

See alsoPicasso, Pablo; Spain; Spanish Civil War; World War II.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baer, Brigitte. Picasso, peintre-graveur: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre gravé et des monotypes, 1899–1972. Bern, Switzerland, 1993–1996.

Bernadac, Marie-Laure. Faces of Picasso. Translated by Jean-Marie Clarke. Paris, 1990.

Butor, Michel. Picasso's Studios: The Alembic of Forms. Paris, 2003.

Chipp, Herschel Browing, and Javier Tusell. Picasso's Guernica: History, Transformations, Meanings. Berkeley, Calif., 1988.

Cowling, Elisabeth. Picasso: Sculptor/Painter. London, 1994.

——. Picasso: Style and Meaning. London, 2002.

Daix. Pierre. Picasso créateur. Paris, 1987.

Daix, Pierre, and Georges Boudaille. Picasso 1900–1906: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Neuchâtel, 1966.

Florman, Lisa. Myth and Metamorphosis: Picasso's Classical Prints of the 1930s. Cambridge, Mass., 2000.

Leiris, Michel. Haut Mal. Paris, 1943.

McCully, Marylin . A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences. Princeton, N.J., 1981.

Nash, Steven A., and Robert Rosenblum, eds. Picasso and the War Years, 1937–1945. New York, 1998.

Opller, Ellen C. Picasso's Guernica: Illustrations, Introductory Essay, Documents, Poetry, Criticism, Analysis. New York, 1988.

Richardson, John, with Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. New York, 1991.

Shapiro, Meyer. The Unity of Picasso's Art. New York, 2000.

Stein, Gertrude. Picasso. London, 1939. Reprint, New York, 1984.

Cyril Thomas

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Guernica." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Guernica." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

"Guernica." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/guernica

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.