Perhaps the most troubling images of the time period addressed war and its aftermath. Picasso’s Guernica, 1937, and the accompanying photo of the town, document the results of a bombing raid on the Spanish city. All has been broken, shattered into fragments, parts of the whole. Rather than the artist fragmenting bodies for the sake of his personal power play over the figure, in this case, the bombs fragmented bodies and buildings in a supreme demonstration of the military machine’s supreme authority to reconstitute the universe.

 

 

ABOVE THIS ILLUSTRATION, PLEASE PLACE (FROM THE CURRENT COURSE) “PICASSO’S GUERNICA” AND FROM THE NEW LIST “GUERNICA PHOTO”

Also alarming is Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, 1931. Painted chronologically between W.W.I, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Civil War (1936-9), the work’s virtual reality reflects this Geist. The limp watches can no longer function. The flies and ants serve to decompose/deconstruct/erase time. The desert landscape is barren of life as is the tree at left. If life is incapable of moving forward, then it must turn backward. If cultural “progress” has lead to a dead end, a barren world, then perhaps the promise of a return to the beginning is the only hope. The object lying on the ground is an amorphous mass of flesh/tissue/body.

Not yet evolved into a “being,” it may represent the development of life from the embryo to the fetus, when the “creation” looks generically nondescript no matter whether it be a blueprint for an elephant, cat, human, or bird. The world must be erased for the evolution of a/any species to (re)occur. Hopefully, this next time all will turn out for the better.

The occurrence of W.W.II reinforced the pessimism. The destruction and genocide evident in the aftermath would clearly force mankind to reassess its direction.