José Guerrero was born in 1914 in Granada, Spain, and studied painting at the local Granada Escuela de Artes y Oficios before moving to Madrid in 1940 to study at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In 1945, Guerrero received a grant to study in Paris, where the works of Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse made a strong impact on him. Following his 1949 marriage to an American journalist, Guerrero and his wife settled in New York, where the emergent Abstract Expressionist movement prompted him to forfeit his figurative style. His earliest non-figurative works had a biomorphic quality, but as the artist became friendlier with and influenced by members of the New York School, Guerrero achieved his distinctive synthesis of form, gesture, movement, and above all, color.
20th Century Art: Lot 37
José Guerrero Azural (1987)
Azural (1987) is a perfect consummation of the lifelong evolution of color, structure, and movement in Guerrero’s work. Starting in the 1970s, Guerrero’s gestural abstraction gave way to a more controlled and structural arrangement in his compositions. The arch of pigment around the edge of Azural is a device he often used in works from the 1970s and 1980s, sometimes creating a full border around the composition. The messy masses of color push into the field, the gestural strokes of the paint enhancing the sense of energy and movement. Throughout his career, Guerrero explored the physical and emotive power of color, and in the 1980s the artist liberated his palette to its brightest and boldest expression; he executed many works in the blue, pink, and white hues that make up Azural. But black is nearly always present in a Guerrero painting, providing balance, accent, weight, or tension.