Guernica in everyday life

Even though I was no longer in Madrid, I spent the past few weeks continuing to research Guernica in terms of what it has inspired. After a visit to the library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I found several texts with essays on Guernica, I decided to turn to online news archives to see if Guernica  was related to any current events.

I found an article in the New York Times from the Week in Review Section from November 29, 2008 titled “A Shopping Guernica Captures the Moment.” The article was in reference to the Black Friday Wal-mart shopping debacle in Long Island that ended in the death of an employee. The title of the article however is really in reference to the accompanying photograph which depicts a blurry mob of shoppers fighting their way into an Oklahoma Wal-Mart.

A more recent article titled “Gulf of Mexico oil spill: WHy artists are inspired when catastrophe strikes,” compares Picasso’s Guernica to art that is being produced as a response to the Gulf Oil spill. Picasso is actually cited as the tredsetter in the pattern of artists creating art inspired by tragedy.

Another article about an art contest that focuses on climate change, cites Guernica as “a testament of how art serves as a mirror for social change and often captures the emotions of events better than news reels and photographs.”

An Article from The Guardian about the recent bullfighting ban in the Catalonia region of Spain also include Guernica. The author draws attention to the bullfight present in Guernica, not only through the representation of the bulll and horse but also the general “horror” present in the work. The purpose of Guernica’s inclusion in this issue is articulated in the author’s question, “If we exclude bloody events like the bullfight from the human imagination, will we lose the capacity to make tragic art?”

I also found an article on an Arizona artist who recently finished a piece titled “World as Ground Zero,” which is a “dimensional collage” that draws its inspiration from Guernica, 9/11, and the Madrid train bombings. This is not the first time I have encountered the connection of these three events and in essence they are all common events in that they share the major theme of innocent civilian death, and in connection with the above references, each of these events have inspired a wave of artistic creation.

Another artwork I came across which is inspired by Guernica is titled “Gernika in Sand,” by Lee Mingwei. The piece was a replica of Guernica made with 14 tons of sand, which was on display for two months at the Gallery of Modern Art in Queensland, Australia. The work’s true message was not merely a sand reproduction of Guernica however; on the opening day of the exhibition Mingwei systematically modified the work by moving the sand around to represent “one artist’s influence on another.” The director of GoMA, Tony Ellwood said of the work, “Mingwei’s Gernika in Sand cites this iconic image as a means of encouraging audiences to consider the way we respond to destructive events such as war – through his work we are encouraged to see that there is hope after destruction.”

I am extremely encouraged by the abundance of articles linking Guernica to the present. These exact cases are what my research is based upon and with a large sum of case studies I am sure to find a good way to form my thesis.