Massacre in Korea



 Picasso Massacre in Korea  El Tres de Mayo, by Francisco de Goya, from Prado thin black margin

Note: Picasso Massacre in Korea // El Tres de Mayo, by Francisco de Goya, from Prado thin black margin //

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Massacre in Korea

Massacre in Korea
Artist Pablo Picasso
Year 1951
Medium Oil on plywood
Dimensions 110 cm × 210 cm (43.3 in × 82.7 in)
Location Musée National Picasso, Paris

Massacre in Korea is an expressionistic painting completed on January 18, 1951, by Pablo Picasso which is seen as a criticism of American intervention in the Korean War. It depicts the 1950 Sinchon Massacre, a mass killing carried out in the county of Sinchon, South Hwanghae Province, North Korea. Massacre in Korea depicts civilians being killed by anti-communist forces. The art critic Kirsten Hoving Keen says that it is "inspired by reports of American atrocities" and considers it one of Picasso's communist works.

Picasso's work is drawn from Francisco Goya's painting The Third of May 1808, which shows Napoleon's soldiers executing Spanish civilians under the orders of Joachim Murat. It stands in the same iconographic tradition of an earlier work modeled after Goya, Édouard Manet's series of five paintings depicting the execution of Emperor Maximilian, completed between 1867 and 1869.

As with Goya's The Third of May 1808, Picasso's painting is marked by a bifurcated composition, divided into two distinct parts. To the left, a group of naked women and children are seen situated at the foot of a mass grave. A number of heavily armed "knights" stand to the right, also naked, but equipped with "gigantic limbs and hard muscles similar to those of prehistoric giants." The firing squad is rigidly poised as in Goya. In Picasso's representation, however, the group is manifestly helter-skelter – as was often apparent in his portrayals of armored soldiers in drawings and lithographs – which may be taken to indicate an attitude of mockery of the idiocy of war.

Their helmets are misshapen, and their weaponry is a mishmash amalgamation of the instruments of aggression from the medieval period to the modern era; not quite guns or lances, they perhaps most resemble candlesticks. What is more, none of the soldiers have penises. This representational feature is highlighted by the pregnant state of the women on the left side of the panel. Many viewers have interpreted that the soldiers, in their capacity as destroyers of life, have substituted guns for their penises, thereby castrating themselves and depriving the world of the next generation of human life. Along with Guernica, The Charnel House (1944–45), War and Peace (1952), and Rape of the Sabine Women (1962–63), this is one of Picasso's works that he composed to depict the politics of his time.

At 43 inches (1.1 m) by 82 inches (2.1 m), the work is smaller than his Guernica. However, it bears a conceptual resemblance to that painting as well as an expressive vehemence.

See also




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