The unknown masterwork.

Fourteen years of research and these almost 300 pages are evidence of serious commitment made by Professor José María Juarranz in showing that Picasso’s Guernica is not a metaphor for the Nazi bombing of that Basque city, but a compilation of elements symbolizing through language, relatively encrypted, details of his biography.

Libro Guernica

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Unraveling Guernica.

Professor José María Juarranz de la Fuente publishes an investigation in which he maintains that the famous painting by Picasso has nothing to do with the bombing of the Basque city.
Guernica The unknown masterpiece is the book that collects the fourteen years of serious research, enriched with images and testimonies, that José María Juarranz de la Fuente has done around the most important painting of the 20th century to demonstrate that ideology and preconceived approaches They have always prevailed over this work. Vicente Verdú, author of the prologue, highlights Juarranz’s unusual courage that he deploys to clarify the truth.
His thesis divides it into three parts: Analysis, Synthesis and Apotheosis.
Analysis starts from the basis of the study that maintains that all of Picasso’s work is autobiographical, as Kanhweiler, one of his dealers and his most important biographers, already pointed out. The author affirms that “to think that his masterpiece, Guernica, does not revolve around Picasso, is to ignore the personality of the artist and the painter”. The painting, according to Juarranz, alludes to his most intimate obsessions and not to any political commitment. In fact, as the author shows through several testimonies, Picasso always showed, at least until the end of the Second World War, no interest in political affairs.
The name of Guernica comes, according to Juarranz, from a visit to Picasso’s studio on Rue des Grands-Augustins in Paris by his friends, among others the poet Paul Éluard, author of the poem “The Victory of Guernica”. Zervos and Juan Larrea, Basque nationalist poet. According to Larrea, when seeing the work, one of them exclaimed ¡Guernica! and Picasso found the perfect plinth to elevate the work of category and multiply his ancestry and visibility throughout Europe, turning it into a symbol against the fascist barbarism of the Spanish war. In fact, the artist never responded directly when asked about the meaning of his work. Juarranz maintains that Picasso himself contributed to the confusion and points out that the first critics who spoke about Guernica were all members of the left or republicans. The painting would have always been used as an element of propaganda, distorting its meaning and making another reading difficult to the established one.

Juarranz also examines in this part the chronology that goes from the order of the painting to the bombing to show that the theme had begun before the attack on the Basque city. Next, the research focuses on analyzing the life of Picasso: his women, the events that marked his life … making a tour of his work to see how he represented each of them. Here he will demonstrate that the most important women in his life are present in Guernica: his mother, María Picasso; his wife and the mother of his son, Olga Koklova; her lover and mother of her daughter, Marie Thérèse Walter; and Dora Maar, the mistress during the process of making the painting. As for the events that marked his life, present in Guernica, highlights the strong earthquake that affected Malaga when he was 3 years old, among others.
After establishing the keys, the second part Synthesis covers the reading of the table that, according to the author, is not linear but multidimensional and to approach it would be necessary an approximation from different points of view.
Do not forget that the Guernica is the largest work executed by Picasso, commissioned by the Spanish Republic to participate in the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1937, and represents a unique opportunity to make a work by which he would be remembered in the future and would serve to achieve immortality. In Juarranz’s opinion, his most important piece can only be autobiographical, like the rest of his production.
In the book they are shelled and interpreting each of the figures in the painting: the bull as a self-portrait of Picasso; the woman with the faint child would represent her lover Marie Thérèsse Walter and her daughter Maya at the time of her birth, when she was about to die; the horse would allude to his wife Olga Koklova; the sharp or pointed tongue would refer to the very hard discussions he had with his wife Olga before the separation; the female figure holding a lamp that comes out of the window would be influenced by her mother Doña María Picasso and would correspond to the earthquake episode; the warrior would actually be the representation of the suicide of his intimate friend Carlos Casagemas; and so on.
Apotheosis is the third part of this thesis that supposes a complement to be able to include better the comprehension of the picture. In this section we study the events that surround the work to the present, with special interest towards the return of Guernica to Spain with the preparatory drawings. Juarranz insists on the need to present and interpret the painting together with the 62 sketches that accompany it and that can never be separated from the main painting, as Picasso always indicated. It also addresses the desire of the painter from Malaga that the Guernica be exhibited at the Prado Museum next to the work of Goya and Velázquez.

José María Juarranz.

Foto de José María Juarranz
José María Juarranz de la Fuente (Fuentemolinos, Burgos, 1949) professor of geography and history, he has a degree in Philosophy from the Complutense University of Madrid and a fellow of the Higher Council for Scientific Research. Among his publications are: “La Revoluciones de 1848”, “Las transformaciones científicas, técnicas y económicas 1850-1914” y “Geografía industrial”, all of them published by Akal. He has also published several articles about Picasso´s work: “Nueva visión de Sueño y Mentira de Franco”, “Picasso: la mujer torero” y “Picasso: el minotauro ciego”.In all of them he has contributed new interpretations that culminate in “Guernica: The Unknown Masterpiece”, the fruit of 14 years of research.


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