The Art of War

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Pablo Picasso’s “Massacre in Korea” (1951)

Art Telling a Story

Art has a way of telling a story where words fail us – when words get in the way. The Musée de l’Armée in Paris illustrated this earlier in the year when they showed an exhibit of Picasso and War. Kelly Grovier wrote that war became “a defining preoccupation of the artist, whose long lifespan stretched from the Cuban War of Independence (which broke out in 1895, when he was just 14 years old) to the Vietnam War, which ended two years after the artist’s death in 1973.”

Grovier describes the painting:

“On the left-hand side of the painting, a desperate huddle of three women (two of whom appear pregnant) and five children (in varying states of upset and alarm) await imminent execution by a lock-step squad of automatons that encroaches from the right – dreary drones whose smooth cyborg skin, snapped-off genitalia, and weird weaponry are the stuff of nightmares. Picasso is keen for us, compositionally, to equate the unfolding horror with barbarities we’ve confronted before in Francisco de Goya’s famous painting The Third of May 1808 [below], whose choreography of sinister soldiers mowing down defenceless civilians is conceived along exactly the same theatrical lines.”

Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” (1814)

The Massacre at Guernica

Perhaps there is no more famous a depiction of the horrors of war than Picasso’s Guernica (below).  Grovier writes:

“… many of us can call to mind the butchered limbs, anguished expressions, and thrashing horse head that trouble the surface of Picasso’s wrenching reflection on the devastating bombardment in April 1937 of the Basque village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.”

Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937)

Makes you want to sing the blues, doesn’t it?

In this month to remember the place of violence in our times, the arts seem the best place to listen to sounds other than the machinery of war.

Trouble… Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble

Trouble been doggin’ my soul since the day I was born

Worry… Worry, worry, worry, worry

Worry just will not seem to leave my mind alone…

Trouble by Ray LaMontagne

“In this world you will have trouble”

These simple words spoken by Jesus in John 16:33 tell of the continual reality of all human history. This prompted Jon Bloom to write, “One thing the Bible is not is utopist about life in this world. It gets unfairly criticized for encouraging a pessimism that makes people passive about doing anything to improve things…” But this is, to use Bloom’s words, “hogwash.”

Immediately after Jesus says those words, John 17 discloses Jesus’s longest recorded prayer – an intimate, hopeful, visionary conversation with His Father – one of the most profound insights on the life of Jesus and what He is all about.

Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you…

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them…

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

May we see the art of the One who made you for Himself and for the love of His Son.