“No, painting is not made to decorate apartments: it’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”
On the trailer for The Power of Art, they mention the “unexpected end” to the story of Guernica. As far as I know there are two details about the painting which give it contemporary meaning:
- The dispute over where it should reside.
Madrid (traditionally part of Castillan Spain) wants it as Picasso is Spain’s most reknown – and critically acclaimed – artist. Bilbao want it because it represents the destruction of the ancient capital of the Basque region.
- The controversy when the UN covered a tapestry of it so it would not be in shot when Colin Powell discussed Iraq.
When people ask why bother with the history of art, it is this on-going interaction of art and society which is interesting. That is how a work from 1937 can still carry weight and meaning nearly 70 years after its painting.