Picasso’s “War and Peace”, Vallauris

Adjoining the Vallauris museum with Picasso’s pottery, there is a stone chapel (probably deconsecrated) that has been given to Picasso’s painting  “La Guerre et la Paix” (War and Peace).   The nave of the chapel is starkly empty with only the museum attendant on her chair.  Light pours in from a high single window in the gothic apex.

I went through a low entrance to the next chamber whose walls are concave.  On the left, there are panels on which Picasso depicted war and on the right, peace.  At the head of the chamber perhaps five or six metres in length, is a depiction of four human figures, painted in white, black, red and yellow, holding up a dove that is carrying an olive branch.

My immediate thought was of Guernica, which was painted in 1937 savagely lamenting the bombing of the Spanish city.   And there are elements that do recall Guernica, but it is different in conception, having been executed in 1952, perhaps when the horrors of the Second World War were receding.

The War panels centre on the silhouettes of five killers linked in a right-to-left sequence of movement. This action happens before a serene grey-tinted figure with a dove on his shield.  To the right of these depictions is the image of a faun or satyr (see horns) with a bloodied sword and a bag of human heads slung over his shoulder.  He is conveyed in a vehicle that looks like a coffin.  The images are framed in clouds of grey, dark brown and – near the peace warrior – deep blue.

The Peace panels centre on marvellously distorted, voluptuous women dancing while a young boy has harnessed a Pegasus-like horse.    On the far left, a faun plays a split flute.  (It is interesting that Picasso remarked that, once he had left Paris and settled on the Côte d’Azur, that he began to paint more satyrs and fauns, implying that he was closer to the ancient forests where they had mythologically lived.)  Above these figures, – you have to crane your neck to see this – there is a strange sun-like mass radiating olive branches.

Seeing this work, I was moved by the deep longing for peace in what he did, amidst the most destructive century in history, for human beings to be confronted here with a universe of their own making, the pain and the healing.

Picasso’s “War and Peace” is amply worth the pilgrimage that one may want to make to Vallauris to see it.

Will van der Walt ©

Mercredi  12 Decembre 2012

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Images Sources:  Succession Paris et R.M.N. Paris, Photo Patrick Gérin

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6 Responses to Picasso’s “War and Peace”, Vallauris

  1. Kenneth Margo says:

    Enjoy thes eposts Will. You bring a sensitive understanding. I envy you your trip. Me I’m struggling a bit with poor health(pinched nerve in neck compacted discs giving rederred pain and weakness to shoulder , hand, and a change of apartment on Sunday is agravating it. But I’ll be in a historic city this time,?Acre (Acco) Keep going and enjoy life

    Ken

  2. The detailed evaluation of these art works evoke emotions which I didn’t think I had…

  3. Elsie Carroll says:

    Hi Mr. Will,
    I truly enjoyed your writing on Picasso’s “War and Peace”. Wonderful!

    I owned two lithographs signed and dated by Picasso himself. Picasso also drew a small flower next to his signature on the “La Paix, Vallauris”. For me, that small flower is a symbol of PEACE that Picasso long for, which I hope he enjoyed PEACE after the WW II and before he died in 1973.

    I would like to share with you my Picasso’s art work. Please e-mail me; carroll6644@gmail.com.
    Thanks, Mrs. Carroll

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