Separation and individuation in Picasso’sGuernica

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Abstract

A systematic, psychoanalytically oriented analysis of Picasso’s preparatory studies for his master-painting Guernica as well as of his many alterations in the course of his work on the painting itself revealed a prominent concern with issues of attachment and of separation, differentiation and maturation, in association with loss, death and destruction. Background information on the circumstances of Picasso’s work on the painting, his personality and his biography, as well as information gleaned from other of his works from various periods of his life were also taken into account. Integration of the direct findings from the analysis of Guernica’s evolution and from this comprehensive background information suggests that the process of creating Guernica represents a symbolic attempt at individuation and establishment of separateness from the mother, by means of aggressive acts expressed towards representations of the mother figure in the painting. The preparatory studies and the painting itself are perceived as transitional objects.

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