Coverdown: Freewheelin 233 / Freewheelin-on-line take 35

freewheelin-on-line take 35 cover


On the cover of last month’s Freewheelin – Number 232, December 2004, I only told half a story. This month I intend to put that right. The ‘story’ concerned Picasso’s 1937 painting Guernica which is mentioned by Dylan in Chapter 5 of Chronicles. As I explained last time around, Guernica is an immense painting for it measures twelve feet deep and twenty six feet wide. Now I don’t usually do things by halves but that is what I did because, by reason of the very size of the painting, the backdrop to the cover of 232 showed only the right hand side of the work. In order to complete the picture and thus finish the story, this month has the other side. 

One of the interesting things about this painting is that, for the first time, Picasso allowed himself an audience while he worked. The giant work was completed over a period of about a month, and during that time various visitors to the artist’s studio watched him, brush in hand, sleeves rolled up, working away whilst obsessively talking about the progress of the painting and art in general. Picasso thus became a performing artist. 

There are more horrifying images of death and destruction on this side of the painting and the figure above Picasso with hands outstretched towards an open window is particularly startling. If Dylan, another performing artist, painted his own picture of death and destruction caused by war I wonder what sort of images he would include?  Perhaps there would be an image of a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it; or a picture of a highway of diamonds with nobody on  it; or a black branch with blood that kept drippin’; or a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’; or a white ladder all covered with water; or ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken; or images of guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children. Who knows, we can only imagine. 

The right hand of the fleeing figure in the foreground of Guernica is showing almost a clenched fist which seems to be trying to squarely grasp Dylan, whist the fingers of the left hand are open and pointing towards Picasso. In the meantime these two performing artists have something else in common. They both like striped T-shirts!


Theo Casamegas