Mental Floss

3 Modern Artists and the Politics that Affected Their Work

Special Guest Star
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This week we're lucky to have guest blogger Elizabeth Lunday, author of Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors, spilling the dirt on the artists you thought you knew. We'll let her take it from here:

BY ELIZABETH LUNDAY. If you think politics were rough for Neoclassical artists, the Modernists had even more troubles. Modern art arose in part as a reaction to the carnage of World War I and became established just in time for the carnage of World War II. Here's how politics affected several Modernists artists:

1. Giving Credit Where it's Due

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Pablo Picasso's masterpiece Guernica was painted in 1937 in reaction to the bombing of the Spanish village of the same name during the Spanish Civil War—it's a devastating portrayal of the horrors of modern warfare and an indictment of fascism. Not surprisingly, the Nazis didn't like it. So when Germany occupied France, they looked on Picasso with some suspicion, and the artist endured an endless parade of German officials trooping through his studio. Picasso simply smiled and handed them all postcard reproductions of Guernica. Once the German ambassador picked up the postcard and sneered, "So you did that, Monsieur Picasso?" "No," Picasso said, "You did."

2. The Ultimate Survivor

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3. Personal Mythologies

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Come back tomorrow for more great artist stories. And be sure to check out Elizabeth's wonderful new book Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You about Master Painters and Sculptors.

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