Artists and Conflict: Picasso, Azzawi and Darwish

1.  Picasso's Guernica (1937) and Dia Azzawi's Sabra Shatila (1982)

Guernica, the massive black and white painting by Pablo Picasso that was painted for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, is a landmark of modernist painting.  As a commentary on the aerial bombardment of the Republican held town of Guernica in northern Spain by German and Italian air forces that supported the Spanish Nationalist forces led by General Franco, it is a commentary on the moral dilemna of attacks on civilians by military force.  It renders in stark form and representation, the horrors of modern warfare and the crisis and realization of the devastation upon civilian life of bombardment.

In this session of the course we'll examine the choices followed by Picasso in the making of this painting.  We'll also view the segment from Simon Schama's segment on Picasso in his The Power of Art series. 

Pablo Picasso.   Guernica .  1937 (Oil on canvas)
Source of image:  Wikipedia entry for Guernica
349.3 x 776.6 cm
Reference:  Reina Sofia Museum

Another artist who turned to the problem of civilians as targets in conditions of civil war is the famous Iraqi modern artist, Dia Azzawi.  Azzawi was deeply moved by the reporting of the massacre of the Palestinian refugees who were attacked and killed in their refugee camps by Lebanese Falangists in 1982.  Azzawi, who was born in Baghdad in 1939, read of the account in a piece by the French playwright, Jean Genet.  this painting, entitled Sabra and Shatila 1982-1983, recently was acquired by the Tate Museum in London and is on permament display there. 

Dia Azzawi, Sabra Shatila (1982-1983)
London:  Tate Museum

2.  The Poetry of Adunis and Mahmoud Darwish and Collaboration in Music, Painting and Art Criticism

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and resulting massacre of civilians at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila prompted other artistic forms of representation.  Adunis, the Lebanese poet wrote one of his longer pieces in response to the massacres and crisis.  

3.  Mahmoud Darwish's poem, On this Land.  

We'll read the original poem on Palestine by Mahmoud Darwish and then we'll listen to and watch three readings of the same poem.  The first reading is by  the poet himself, Mahmoud Darwish, who is accompanied by the Palestinian instrumental group, Le Trio Joubran. This is available on ITunes.  Next we'll listen to and watch a video rendition of the same poet by the Syrian American rap singer Omar Offendum, “On This Land”.  And last, we'll watch another version by Shadia Mansour on Youtube.   

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