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Guernica in Depth
There are so many similarities between 1934 drawing and Guernica that it is undoubtedly the all important but unknown precursor to Picasso's greatest painting.
Like the drawing, Guernica is full of hidden images and themes. Consequently, almost every line and shape in contains, is meaningful, either in the context of what it represents, or what it is concealing.

Guernica, 1937


The themes of death, the bullfight and crucifixion are common to both pictures.

The Guernica bull is very like the bull in "The Unknown Masterpiece," both are huge, shown in profile and stand motionless observing the scene before them.

There is a strong similarity in the dramatic clashing of light and dark areas and the overhead light sources in both compositions.

In both Guernica and "The Unknown Masterpiece." there is a second concealed bull's head hidden just below the horse.

The head of the woman with the lamp in Guernica swoops downwards from the upper right corner in exactly the same way as the concealed head of Lucifer in the drawing. Lucifer, 'the light bringer' is related symbolically to Venus, the Morning Star. She represents the evil of the physical world.

The fallen warrior in Guernica is almost identical to the central figure in "The Unknown Masterpiece." Both, are in a crucifixion pose and have severed arms, identifying them with Picasso and to Parsifal. The broken sword in his hand is the sword which breaks in two at a crucial moment in battle in Wolfram Von Eschenbach's version of the legend. In the "Unknown Masterpiece," the link with Parsifal comes straight from Wagner and is identified by the central figure, Picasso, reaching upwards to grasp the spear floating in the air, directly above him.

In the center of Guernica there is a concealed skull hidden within the body and legs of the wounded horse. In "The Unknown Masterpiece" there is a hidden skull, in the center of the composition.

Both reveal the same overlaying of skull upon horse in the very center. Both are subliminal.

In Guernica, the horse has been stabbed by a spear, a symbol which is associated in Spanish, with the first four letters of Picasso's name, "Pica." The diamond tip of the spear represents Picasso too, but as harlequin, who like Christ, is endowed with power over death.

The Guernica spear is also closely related with the set-painter's paintbrush in "The Unknown Masterpiece." The brush has been overlaid on the concealed skull which appears over-laid on the hidden horse. In Guernica, the skull is penetrated by a spear, again, within the area of the horse's body. Picasso would have readily made the childish association between the shape of a wet paintbrush and a spear. Therefore it is almost certain, from the placement of the paintbrush in "The Unknown Masterpiece," that the Guernica spear, is likewise a cryptic representation of Picasso's paintbrush, partly because of its appearance and partly because of its connection to Picasso's comments about painting being a weapon,

'No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. its an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.'

The Guernica spear penetrates the hidden representation of Hitler in the center of its composition. And, if we examine the center of "The Unknown Masterpiece" there is also a concealed portrait of Hitler, looming out of its shadows.

In "The Unnown masterpiece," Picasso has taken possession of the spear from Klingsor, who he strongly associates with Hitler. In Guernica, Picasso continues the Wagnerian narrative by stabbing Hitler with the very spear, which he has transformed into a powerful talisman of personal, mystical symbols.

Picasso was secretive about the meanings of Guernica and would only talk about it in a guarded and very superficial way. As a consequence, the mysteries of its imagery have given rise to more art historical interpretation than possibly any other picture in the history of art. Surprisingly, nearly all of these interpretations are oblivious to Guernica's high level of concealed and meaningful imagery.

JPG image (42 K) Guernica, 1937
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