|Pablo Picasso's "Massacre in Korea," 1951|
Turns out there is another work by Picasso that is not so widely taught or recognized, hanging in the Picasso museum in Paris. It's called "Massacre in Korea," dates from 1951, and depicts the massacre of Korean civilians at Sinchon by American forces early in what is misleadingly called in the United States "the Korean War."
I confess to having seen photographs of this painting before, but never questioned its subject matter until I read its title. I suspect that's no accident. Although it's acknowledged that Picasso was a leftist for much of his life, it's obvious that Picasso's truth-telling about the uncomfortable comparison between the murderous forces of Spanish fascism and US imperialism is anathema to popular art critics. How coldly hypocritical that this painting brilliantly depicting the murder of civilians by a robotized, dehumanized military machine would be quietly ignored because it runs counter to the official myths about what US imperialism was up to in Korea.
I've written repeatedly that North Korea's government is hardly the model of an egalitarian, forward-thinking socialist society. But whenever you hear the DPRK demonized on American TV, or read some fearful screed about the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear program, remember this painting. Remember who did what to whom. Guernica, Sinchon: Exactly the same things. Don't be fooled by the whining of bullies.