Cover image for Picasso's war : the destruction of Guernica and the masterpiece that changed the world
Picasso's war : the destruction of Guernica and the masterpiece that changed the world
Martin, Russell.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2002]

Physical Description:
274 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND553.P5 A66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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On April 26, 1937, the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain was bombed by Hitler's Luftwaffe in the midst of a bloody civil war on behalf of Francisco Franco's rebel forces. Twenty-four hours later, the village lay in ruins, its population decimated. This act of terror and unspeakable cruelty--the first large-scale attack against civilians in modern warfare-outraged the world, and one man in particular. Pablo Picasso, an expatriate living in Paris, responded to the devastation in his homeland by beginning work on Guernica, a painting that many today consider the greatest artwork of the twentieth century. Weaving themes of politics, art, war, and morality, and featuring some of the twentieth century's most memorable and infamous figures, Martin follows this renowned masterwork across decades and continents. From Europe to America and, finally, back to Spain, Picasso's Warsheds light on the conflict that was an ominous prelude to World War II and delivers an unforgettable portrait of a genius whose visionary statement about the horror and terrible wounds of war still resonates today.

Author Notes

Russell Martin is the author of five works of nonfiction, including the highly acclaimed Out of Silence, and a novel. He lives in Colorado.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Picasso hadn't yet agreed to create a mural for Spain's pavilion in Paris' 1937 international exposition, but once news of the Nazi bombing and utter destruction of the historic Basque town of Guernica reached the expatriate Spanish artist, visions of a painting in protest of that horrific massacre of innocents quickly coalesced. The result was the immense masterpiece Guernica, which, as Martin so resoundingly chronicles, became "the world's most recognized symbol of war's brutality." Martin, the author most recently of Beethoven's Hair (2000), relates in engrossing detail the entire, never before fully documented story of the genesis, reception, and fate of Guernica, freshly considering overlooked aspects of Spain's civil war and Franco's collusion with Hitler, the ongoing struggle for Basque autonomy, and Picasso's refusal to allow Guernica to travel to Franco's Spain. Initially castigated for being too vague in its condemnation of the fascist attack, the painting's timeless and universal power soon made itself known as war erupted around the globe. Martin's poignant portrayal of Picasso and gripping history of a painting that galvanized a world assaulted by new extremes of systematic violence illuminate the complex and always provocative nexus of art, politics, and social conscience. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Picasso watched closely from his adopted Paris as the Spanish Civil War unfolded, and when German bombers leveled the Basque village of Guernica, the previously apolitical Picasso felt stirred to action. Created at a frenzied pace, his painting Guernica was both homage to his Catalonian homeland and a scathing indictment of bloodshed. While Martin (Beethoven's Hair) meticulously describes the painting's creation and context, much of the book focuses on the controversies that haunted the canvas for decades. When Guernica was first introduced at the Spanish pavilion of the 1937 International Exposition of Art and Technology Applied to Modern Life in Paris, it was ignored by many, criticized by others for ugliness-and even for not being political enough. Later acknowledged as a classic, it was housed in New York's Museum of Modern Art, safe from the war overseas. By the '60s, voices grew stronger asking for its return to Spain, the country that had originally commissioned its creation. With Franco still in power, an aging Picasso asked that the painting go to Spain only when the country was once again free from oppression. Within this larger narrative, Martin weaves a memoir of his own trek to visit Guernica, which finally arrived in Spain in the 1980s. The culmination of this thread, when Martin coincidentally views the painting on September 11, 2001, brings the narrative into the contemporary world and highlights Guernica's brutal relevance today. (Oct. 28) Forecast: Martin's Out of Silence: An Autistic Boy's Journey into Language and Communication (1994) was widely reviewed and acclaimed, and Beethoven's Hair (2000) was a Washington Post Book of the Year and a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Look for strong national reviews, many of which will use the book as a springboard to discuss more recent political art (and the lack thereof). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The author of the best-selling Beethoven's Hair reconstructs the history of a town and a painting. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1. The Spanish Deadp. 9
2. Remembering the Bullringp. 47
3. Images Spilling from Fingersp. 63
4. Save Spain!p. 103
5. A Wearable Pair of Bootsp. 131
6. Exilesp. 157
7. The Last Refugeep. 191
8. Guernica in Gernikap. 227
Epiloguep. 255