The Spanish Pavilion
Christian Zervos, «Le Pavillon de l'Espagne», Cahiers d'art, n.º 4-5, 1937, pp. 283-292. A special edition of Cahiers d’Art on Guernica, corresponding to issues 4 and 5. The monograph, coordinated by the journal’s director, Christian Zervos, analyses Picasso’s process of inspiration-searching by way of a series of articles by different authors, along with manifold photographs taken by Dora Maar, depicting both the artist’s drawings and the execution of the canvas at different stages. The monograph is opened by Zervos, who labels the painting the most humane and chilling work by the artist to date, despite his belief that Picasso self-imposed a cerebral reading of the tragedy so as not to fall into sentimentalism. He explains how, stage after stage, any embellishment was stripped down to absolute purity, both in the movement of the figures, which in their development went from violence to syntheses, and in the space, which moved from an exterior to a tight and harsh interior. Zervos underscores that the importance of the work lies not so much in its aesthetic resolution but in the extreme feelings and sensations it portrays. He finishes by drawing attention to the colours — the blacks, greys and whites, connected to the personages and the sadness and tragedy of the composition. In his article, Jean Cassou, art critic and Hispanist, draws comparisons between Goya and Picasso, whom he believes re-finds himself through a painting which expresses the most intimate tragedy a human being can go through. It is followed by Georges Duthuit, a scholar of Byzantine culture, and Pierre Mabille, a French Surrealist writer, who both stress the survival of the destruction and murder of Guernika, which would have faded into oblivion if it weren’t for the painting. Thereupon, Paul Éluard, in his poem on Picasso, describes the hope for a better future, where values such as freedom and solidarity prevail, while the French writer Michel Leiris defends the beauty of the work and futility of adding words to the expression on the surface of the canvas. This is followed by an article by José Bergamín which once again likens Goya’s Madrid and Picasso’s Spain, works which, in his opinion, reflect the will to be both popular and Spanish, and with history, not painting, repeated on both canvases. The edition is concluded with an article by Juan Larrea, a Spanish poet and essayist, on Miró’s work Le faucheur.
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The Spanish Pavilion