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Bittersweet moment: confecting Guernica out of chocolate

27 April 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

When Picasso painted Guernica in 1937, he did not employ his usual palette. Rather he turned to black, white and grey house paints, specially selected in order to achieve the minimum amount of gloss. The outcome is one of the most famous anti-war paintings as well as one of the most famous monochromatic works of art – up there with Ingres’ Odalisque in Grisaille and Malevich’s Black Square.

Now, on the 85th anniversary of the bombing that Guernica depicts, a team of 40 master craftsmen from the association of Basque Confectioners (Euskal Gozogileak) has paid tribute to Picasso’s creation using even more unorthodox materials. The replica of the vast painting, made entirely of dark, milk and white chocolate, went on display in the town of Gernika on Sunday – and the results are really quite impressive. The tonal modulations, for instance, are particularly accomplished. Malevich’s painting would certainly have been easier to pull off.

Photo: Ander Gillenea/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: Ander Gillenea/AFP via Getty Images

Rakewell wonders what Picasso, an artist with a voracious appetite, who regularly depicted food and its accoutrements in his art – including, on one occasion, a Cubist chocolate pot – would have thought of this cocoa-filled Guernica. And what of luxury chocolate vendors Visser, which sells its very own ‘Picasso’ range of paint-splattered domes – perhaps more Pollock than Picasso – of Belgian chocolate? Judging by the achievements of the Basque chocolatiers, it might be facing some stiff competition.