This huge work was conceived and painted as Picasso's response to the destruction of the small Basque town of Guernica by Nazi aircraft; the political context and circumstances are described here. Dora Maar found Picasso a studio in Paris big enough to hold the projected work, and photographed each stage of its creation.
Guernica's impact is intensified by its great size and the fact that it is painted entirely in black, white and shades of grey. Picasso's techniques and many of his images are to be found in earlier works, but here they are integrated into a great cry of shock and pain. The bombs are invisible, their impact hinted at in the sunflash of the electric bulb and a flare of light above the door; we see only the victims, suddenly struck down.
Guernica was the highlight of the Paris Exhibition, after which it toured internationally, helping to create sympathy for the beleaguered Spanish Republic; but, like most works of art, it finally failed to change the course of events.