Monday, April 8, 2013

Guernica and the Garden



Guernica and Garden of Earthly Delights


Sorry to do this to you so soon after the disturbing Ensor painting, but G was too good to resist.

Art doesn’t have to be beautiful to be valuable or to be considered art at all. Some of the most powerful and meaningful works of art are nothing of the kind; their power comes from an ugliness through which the artist expresses a particular view of the world. Today I share two of the most famous pieces of what I like to call “stunning ugly art”.



Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937

This painting was Picasso’s response to the bombing of the town of Guernica in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso painted in tones of black, white, and gray, and the painting is terrifying and hypnotic. It shows a chaotic scramble of human and animal faces and bodies caught in the midst of screams of agony and bewilderment. It’s now recognized as one of art’s most powerful antiwar statements.



Garden of Earthly Delights,  Heironymus Bosch, early 1500s

This painting is actually a triptych, that is, a painting in three panels. The left panel shows God presenting Eve to Adam. Interestingly, although the three panels go together, this one is hardly ever depicted; most people will recognize the center and right panels, or at least images from them, because of their fantastic quality. The right panel depicts the landscape of Hell. The center panel has been interpreted as images of human lust and unresisted temptation, so that the whole picture can be seen as an allegory of the “fall of man.”  There are so many images in this painting that the viewer can’t begin to take them all in at once. A Wikipedia article about the painting explicates many of the details for those who’d like to go deeper into it.

Tomorrow, for those who stick with me, I promise something beautiful and sublime!


  1. I love artwork and try to buy something from each vacation destination.

  2. Awesome art choices. Both are stunning and horrifying and beautiful.

  3. Bosch is a little shocking the first time you encounter him. I have seen the middle and other panel, not the one with Eve in it.

    I like Guernica, it's a powerful antiwar statement, but also a powerful painting of the cubist movement and one that is recognized by many people.

  4. hmmm,can't say that I like it. Thought provoking though.~ Denise Ferri