Sample Literature Paper on Art and Literature

The best way to protest against war today is through art because it is capable of influencing social, economic, and political issues. Pablo Picasso, a famous painter, expressed his displeasure against war using the Guernica painting, which he painted in 1937. The massive mural-sized painting has been presented to millions of audience, especially during the Paris World Fair. It was composed during the Cubism period and movement. The movement gained prominence during a period spanning from 1905 to 1940. It coincided with World War I and II. There was need to address impacts of war among different countries. Visual analysts assert that the title of the art wad derived from ‘Guernica’ which refers to the city that was bombed by Nazi planes during the Spanish Civil War (Picasso n.p). The painting portrays the horrors of the conflict, as it encompasses rather disturbing scenes of the incident. Today, the painting has gained prominence and become a symbol of anti-war and is a constant reminder of the tragedies associated with war. The focus of this paper is to discuss the Guernica painting and highlight the relevance of art in the indictment of war in today’s society.

Discussion and Analysis

The work elicits a lot of emotions. The artwork measures 349 cm by 776 cm. The painting is a composition of oil on canvas. It draws attention of the audience who often feel like the art directly communicate societal issues work whenever they are viewing it. It creates an immersion that throws the audience’s mind into the action scene. Indeed, the painting is unlike others by Picasso, because he usually paid little attention to politics in his works. The art portrays how defenseless civilians were massacred as they tried to flee. Additionally, the war saw fire burn the entire city for three days and destroy three quarters of the expanse. More than 1600 civilians were either wounded or killed. On the contrary, a section of the audience claim that the painting tends not to have a well defined meaning considering the endless debates that surround the objects making up the composition. All in all, majority feel that Picasso succeeded in addressing the negative impacts of civil war.

The Guernica was used to raise fund for the refugees that resulted from the war. The painting travelled across the world communicating the theme of the effects of war.  Picasso did allow it to return to Spain until when the Spanish people started enjoying liberty and democracy. Today, Guernica is permanently displayed at Reina Sofia, Spain’s national museum of modern art located in Madrid. Visual analysts claim the artwork is difficult to interpret due to the many objects captured in the composition. Space has effectively been used to depict death and suffering considering how the artist has juxtaposed various objects. Upon closely observing the painting one can make out figures of a woman on the left side grieving while holding a dead child. Perhaps, the inconsolable woman carrying a dead child is the most devastating and memorable image in the painting. To the right side of the woman, a partial head of a large bull is visible; it is the only unharmed figure amidst the chaos. Beneath the woman, a severely wounded man is observed lying on the ground. His right arm looks injured and is supported by clutches looking like a broken sword. At the centre of the compositions stands a horse that seems to be in pain due to the piercing on its side and terrified. Notably, three women are visible in the composition. One of them rushes towards a burning house as if she wants to salvage her property,   the second appear to lean on the window of an adjacent burning house, and the third seems to be trapped in another burning house in the neighborhood.

Picasso uses gray, black and white colors to depict a firsthand experience of the war. The colors were used dominantly in newspapers to depict eye witness accounts of events. The use of color creates a dramatic intensity and energy that successfully advances the theme of war. Picasso organizes the objects into vertical and horizontal lanes that assist the audience to separate objects in the composition. Lines as elements of design are also used to provide demarcations and boundaries of the objects while depicting a triangular plane of light.


Art can be used to address pertinent issues in society. The Guernica artwork effectively creates awareness of the dangers of war. Notably, Picasso is recognized for the role he played in providing a pathway towards democracy in Spain through myriad paintings. Specifically, Guernica challenges intentions of civil wars by depicting how such events can lead to destruction of property and loss of lives. Nonetheless, the artwork creates room for different modern interpretations based on societal understanding. Undoubtedly, Picasso is among artists who effectively used art to reach the entire world to spread messages of peace, unity and promote democratic space.


Work Cited

Picasso, Pablo. Guernica. Khan Academy, 1937. Available at: Retrieved March 14, 2018.



Picasso, Pablo. Guernica. Khan Academy, 1937. Available at: Retrieved March 14, 2018.