If you are an art lover and you are visiting Granada, you should know that in addition to the countless monuments and works reminiscent of the Nasrid period, you can also enjoy more modern forms of art. Ever heard of the José Guerrero Centre? You should know that we are talking about a small museum devoted entirely to abstract expressionism. It is located right in the centre, in the heart of Granada.
WHO WAS JOSÉ GUERRERO?
José Guerrero (Granada, 27 October 1914 – Barcelona, 23 December 1991) was a Spanish painter and printmaker naturalised in the United States. He was a member of the Abstract Expressionist movement. He was the son of Emilio García López and Gracia Guerrero Padial. José Guerrero studied at the Escolapios in Granada until 1928. When his father passed away on 9 January 1929, he was forced to abandon his studies and work as an apprentice in various trades. In 1931 he enrolled in the School of Arts and Crafts in Granada, where he continued his studies at night. After a clash with teacher Gabriel Morcillo, Guerrero left the school in 1934. The civil war surprised him when he left for military service at the end of 1935 in the city of Ceuta.
After the war, in 1940, he travelled to Madrid to study at the San Fernando Academy. During the 1945 he moved to France, to Paris, coming into contact with the work of the European avant-garde and especially with Spanish artists such as Picasso, Miró and Gris. In this early period his work is still figurative. In Paris, on 25 April 1949, he married Roxane Whittier Pollock, an American journalist. They travelled to Spain on their honeymoon. At the end of the summer he went to London and studied English. During November 1949 he settled in the USA, first at his in-laws’ house and then in New York, the capital of modern art.
The painter became an American citizen in 1953. Around 1961, he suffered from severe depression following the death of a friend. He received medical assistance for the illness for four years. Then, in 1965, he visited Spain alone and decided to return: Frigiliana (Malaga), Cuenca and Madrid became his places of reference.
INFLUENCE AND ARTISTIC DIRECTION
José Guerrero began painting abstract art in the United States, becoming a member of the New York School. He also participated in different exhibitions of this school. In his work one cannot fail to notice the influence of painters such as Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still and Barnett Newman. He is particularly known for his chromatism, his use of colour masses. From 1960, while continuing to live in the United States, he travelled to Spain on several occasions and participated in the creation of the Museo de Arte Abstracto de Cuenca. Among the prizes and awards he received during his lifetime, it is worth mentioning that he was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government (1959).
MISSION OF THE JOSÉ GUERRERO CENTRE
The José Guerrero Centre is a public art gallery, run by the Province of Granada, which houses the most important collection of works by Granada painter José Guerrero (1914-1991). It is located on Calle Oficios, next to the Cathedral of Granada and in the heart of the city centre. It was created to culturally enrich the province of Granada. The Centre represents modern art through the figure of the painter Josè Guerrero. A careful selection of his personal collection constitutes the Collection of the Centre, the most important existing of the artist, on which the foundations of the institution, its museological project and subsequent museographic realisation are based. Preserving the collection, exhibiting it, disseminating it and researching Guerrero’s work are the main tasks of the museum, together with the promotion of contemporary art and culture.