Disrespecting art comes in different forms – vandalizing it to make a statement and stealing it to make a profit come readily to mind. But ignoring it also belongs on the list.

Disrespecting art

None of the above applies to the following news from Reuters, but disrespect is written all over it. "Guernica," Picasso’s raging anti-war painting has been replicated by 40 Spanish confectioners in chocolate. And the question that dogs this story is, how can anyone, let alone so many Spanish citizens, view the gut-wrenching horrors in this painting – like the woman with a lifeless child in her arms screaming at the heavens as 3,000 German bombs rained down on her town – even think to copy it with the makings of a dessert?

Tragic scene

The Nazi bombardment not only erased the city of Guernica but machine-gun fire from low-flying planes also mowed down whoever was left standing. This picture of grief is in every way despairing, even down to the dark palette of black, blue, and white. How is it possible for chocolate-makers who say their collaboration is meant to commemorate the attack, do it with a sweet? Isn’t that like marking the anniversary of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 Americans with, say, a seven-layer cake decorated with images of drowned sailors on top?

Yet, Reuters airily headlined the story “a show of skill and cultural pride.” Cultural pride? In what, the Nazi’s obliteration of a city?

Reuters quotes the chocolatiers president Lorena Gomez on Guernica: "There is this part of suffering, this part of peace. There is a message of hope." Where is peace or hope anywhere in this painting?

Publicity stunt?

How unpeaceful is "Guernica?" Ishaan Tharoor noted in the Washington Post in 2017 that many historians today classify the bombing of Guernica as a war crime.

You don’t make an edible out of a war crime. Copying "Guernica" in this way is in such bad taste that you have to wonder why so many would do it. But you don’t have to wonder long. Reuters quotes Gomez: “Confectionery has always been the poor sister of haute cuisine. What we want is to bring the sector the recognition it deserves, like fine dining." So much for memorializing Spanish history.

Legoland Discovery

Not that others haven’t copied "Guernica" with unusual materials. The Smithsonian Magazine pointed out that the Picasso painting has “inspired countless imitations in other mediums.” For example, in 2014, in celebration of Picasso’s 133rd birthday, Legoland Discovery Center presented a replica with children’s building blocks known as Legos.

But here’s the thing. The Lego version served the painting. The squared-off blocks gave all the picture parts edgy, hard angles that stiffen what you saw and amplified the death and destruction. This, of course, is not the case with a copy in chocolate. Unaccountably, the Smithsonian magazine characterizing the confect replica a “cocoa-rich creation,” adding “compared with its peers, the latest rendition of Guernica is significantly sweeter.” Sickening sweet is more like it.

Basque militants

The Smithsonian further praised this "Guernica" copy saying that great efforts were made to replicate all the figures in the work, and the brushwork. too. But it’s just hard to get past the material used. Then there’s this: on the 40th anniversary of the bombing in 1977, the magazine noted how thousands of Basque militants raised their fists in front of Picasso’s painting to honor it. This year is the 85th anniversary of the bombing and you have to wonder if anyone will take this chocolate replica serious enough to even lift a finger.