This political picture is Picasso’s reaction to the massacre of civilians by the American and South Korean military in October-December 1950. In those days, around 35,000 people were killed in the vicinity of Sinchon. The war between North Korea and South Korea lasted from 1950 to 1953.
Turning to Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May 1808,” which depicts the execution of Spanish civilians by Napoleon’s soldiers, Picasso works in a manner typical of his late work. He focuses the attention of the viewer on certain points: all shot – women and children; in the hands of soldiers, not rifles, but something abstract, defining aggression in general; one has a sword in his hand, symbolizing the historicity of the war; the faces of the soldiers are simplified to the state of the masks, and the faces of those preparing for death are turned to the viewer.