On Pablo Picasso's Birthday, Remembering the Artist as a Champion of Peace
Today would have been prolific artist Pablo Picasso's birthday. The famous Spaniard was known for his beautiful paintings, sculptures, and drawings of landscapes, women, and musicians, and for revolutionizing the world of art by pioneering Cubism, among other movements. Just as important as his contributions to art, were his political activism and the ways he used his medium to create awareness around the many causes he championed.
His infamous "Guernica" painting, a commentary on the horrors of war, was created in response to Germany's destruction of the oldest town of Spanish Basque provinces, and Picasso's country of birth. It was commissioned for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition, but the artist demanded that it not go to Spain until fascism ended.
That meant the painting stayed in New York until 1981—40 years after it was created. Picasso used this painting to voice his views again when he passed out postcards of the image to Germans occupying Paris in 1940. According to reports, when Nazi soldiers, after receiving the postcard from Picasso, asked him, "Did you do this?" Picasso simply replied, "No, you did."
Today, on what would have been Picasso's 131st birthday, we'd also like to remember the artist as an avid promoter of peace. His revered peace dove was created for the First International Peace Conference in Paris, 1949.
Based on a drawing of a pigeon done by his friend Henri Matisse, the image has been used for decades as a symbol of hope and inspiration. So while he may not be with us today, his imagery is still very much alive and a constant reminder to work towards peace in whatever medium we choose.
Happy birthday Mr. Picasso!