Art Is a Doorway to Understanding Conflict

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica.

Anyone who has sat and stared at the vast masterpiece that is Picasso’s Guernica understands that art—painting, music, sculpture, creative writing, dance—has as much (if not more) to say about the whys and hows of peace and conflict than any news story or journal article. The desolation of war and obliteration of ordinary life. The tentative hope for transformation and peace.

These two essential axes of human experience appear all around us. From Picasso to Winifred Knights, Banksy, and Norman Rockwell—each of them and so many others have sought to depict and understand the conflicts of their times through art.

In 2018, Dawn Brancati published a piece with PV@G on the relationship between war and art, from opposition towards early conflict to recovery. It’s not all anti-war art, though. Brancati also tackles the impact of political propaganda and art looting on sustaining wars. Art may be an expression of the need for peace; it can also sow hatred and violence.

What role is art playing in today’s conflicts and searches for peace?

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