Columbian artist Fernando Botero and his collection of works on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was the subject of a rousing speech my friend gave recently to his University of Hawaii students.
On London’s Tube en route from Rome to Maple Grove in 2004, I saw the British pouring over extensive Abu Ghraib scandal coverage in the Independent, Times and Guardian newspapers. I was embarrassed to be American.
As awful as the incident was, I’m glad an artist like Botero immortalized the tale. I’m also thankful to my friend for bringing his works to my attention. Botero doesn’t plan on profiting from the renderings and will donate them to museums as a grim reminder.
My friend also taught me about the Guernica-Colin Powell situation. In the run up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, Powell was set to address the media in front of “Guernica,” a famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso, but it was covered before the address.
The reasoning and circumstances at the event are disputed. In 2003 articles, Slate, a liberal magazine, said Powell and the State Department covered it up because war talk in front of anti-war imagery wouldn’t sell well, while The Weekly Standard, a conservative periodical, had the blue covering on the painting because media cameramen requested it instead of the abstract figures that would result in a crop of the 11-foot-by-25-foot mural around the Secretary of State.
I don’t know the facts, but news photographers want the most candid, place-setting image. Colin Powell in front of Picasso’s anti-warmonger art would SCREAM irony.
As Picasso said about Guernica in 1956: “It will do the most good in America.”