A 3D Tour of Picasso’s Guernica

In June 1937 Pablo Picasso painted Guernica, a mural that memorialized the events of April 27, 1937, the date when Germany supported its fascist ally Francisco Franco and bombed Guernica, a rather remote town in the Basque region of northern Spain. For the Nazis, the military strike was an excuse to try out their latest military hardware, establish a blueprint for terror bombings of civilian populations, and pull Spain into the fascist fold. After the bombing, the republican government on the other side of the Spanish Civil War commissioned Picasso to create the mural for display at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.

You can learn more about the famous anti-war painting, now housed at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, by checking out the Smarthistory primer posted below. In the meantime, we’re highlighting today a digitally-rendered 3D tour of Picasso’s landmark work. It’s the creation of Lena Gieseke, a visual effects artist who, once upon a time, was married to the filmmaker Tim Burton. Some will consider the idea of putting Guernica in 3D downright blasphemous. Others will find it instructive, a chance to see parts of the mural from a new perspective. The video above runs three minutes.

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Related Content:

The Gestapo Points to Guernica and Asks Picasso, “Did You Do This?;” Picasso Replies “No, You Did!”

Guernica: Alain Resnais’ Haunting Film on Picasso’s Painting & the Crimes of the Spanish Civil War

Picasso Painting on Glass

Dear Monsieur Picasso: A Free eBook

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Comments (11)
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  • b., from afar, says:

    Well, I respectfully disagree.
    It’s not blasphemous, it’s rather stupid, and totally useless; may I explain ?
    One of the shifts Picasso brought to painting was to flatten the picture, rising against the illusion of perspective. It’s one of the main things in cubism : image is not a fake 3D space, it’s a strong 2D surface.
    Inflating forms like air balloons can only break the thin ice of the painting. Heck ! Would he have wanted to do some retinal truth, Picasso would have done it, wouldn’t he ?
    I think it’s some kind of vain exercise bored people can do just because they have the tools to. Play with some early-Renaissance painting, where the invention of space makes sense !
    Here, it brings only strass and blinking lights : better forget it !

  • eperspicalia says:

    I thought it was awesome

  • eperspicalia says:

    I mean, I do think it is awesome

  • Steve says:

    I have always admired this painting & the way it captures the almost unimaginable events on that day in the town of Guernica- it is so sad yet powerful.
    I think this 3D version has been done sensitively and takes the viewer through the original in a new way.

  • encyclomedia says:

    I like this film, as it enables the “whole” 2D Cubist image to be separated into 3D “fractions” that enable one to focus more clearly on each individual element and then reassemble these disconnected “fragments” into Picasso’s beautiful and yet horrific original “holistic” painting.

  • Kevin says:

    The original artwork is still there. It still exists. It has not been destroyed. All of your ideas about the wonderfulness of cubism are still present in the original artwork, for you and everyone else to appreciate and enjoy. Another artist has simply taken that artwork and created something new from it that may, in fact, reach a larger audience not even acquainted with the original. It takes nothing away from Picasso or his original intent.

  • Tim says:

    Regarding “from afar”‘s comment.
    All art is constructed on the shoulders of those who have come before. If this artist chooses to reinterpret this work into a 3-D sculptural format via digitalization then it has accomplished at least two changes to the work, and art is nothing if not change.
    Picasso said something like (paraphrase)that any work of art dies once it is completed, and the museum is essentially a mausoleum.
    No offense intended , but your objection should be hung next to the flatwork as both are equally dead.

  • simone gad says:

    i was fortunate to see guernica at moma many times in nyc before it went back to europe. an amazing painting. i saw it each time i went to nyc for art business and to see my agents.

  • Emmett Walz says:

    I have not seen the painting “in person” but only in art books, etc.. Still I have never experienced anything close to feelings of awe, sorrow, or amazement. I find looking at any of dozens of Goya charcoal drawings far more Impactful an experience as regards the horror of man’s inhumanity to man. I have found Picasso’s work to be a sorrowful waste of an extraordinary technical talent (as evidenced by many of his earliest non-cubist, realist style, pieces). Then again, I believe this is also true for almost the entirety of twentieth century, modernist “art”. I believe Tom Wolfe’s seminal work, “The Painted Word” does much to express this generally universal view of the great majority of mankind, as regards Modernist “art”. It is a failed hoax as regards the expected, or hoped for experience when viewing art. Modernist “art” has for the most part alienated most people from any appreciation of the offerings of the twentieth century, and continuing to the present time. Just take a look at any museum”s visitors throughout the world when viewing the alluded to “art” in their many glorified collections of Modern “art”, and you will notice the Modernist wings of the said museums are virtually empty, as compared with the collections of any period of art preceding the twentieth century. Those people attending the Modernist collections are happy to report their deepest experience of such “art” but try to find such “art” hung in any of their homes. Almost impossible to find a Jackson Pollock print in the homes of these supposed fans of Modernist “art”. Very “sophisticated”, urbane lovers of Modernist “art” appear to appreciate such evidence of their sophistication while in museums only, and never in their homes. Wonder why that is?!

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