Originally Posted by haha
Guernica is in my opinion the most powerful painting of the 20th century. It commemorates and gives human emotional outlet to the devastation of that day.
We studied Picasso's Guernica in a High School Humanities class. When they projected it on the screen, my reaction was along the lines of the OP - what is this messy scribble?
Then they explained what it represented, and I was in awe of the thing. It's an amazing and creative way to cram the confusion, devastation and emotion into 2 dimensional monochrome. I'm not even sure I could handle seeing it in person.
The musical parallel for me is Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' - the real beauty and intensity of it just did not hit me until I understood what was behind the song.