’La Alhambra y el Generalife de Granada’. Leopoldo Torres Balbás.

    It has always been said that the Alhambra is so indebted to Leopoldo Torres Balbás (1888-1960) that it is nearly impossible to pay back. I also think so. The futile controversy on his condition as an architect more than an archeologist, on if his work was more theoretical than professional of action, or if he had contradictory criteria (intervention in the Palace of Charles V), has to be seen alongside his ‘Crónica arqueológica de la España musulman’ (articles about archeologic aspects of Muslim Spain). It is a magisterial vademecum, published for a long time in the magazine ‘Al-Andalus’. How would Don Leopoldo even know about methods like Arqueometry or digital 3D-profiling(!) and other methods normally used by the professionals in this field today? The time he was architect and curator in the Alhambra, from 1923 to 1936, has probably left the most beautiful and valuable pages ever written about the Alhambra, constituting nowadays indispensable handbooks for reference and literature for professionals.
    Like this book, facsimile edition of the one by Plus Ultra (1949), ‘La Alhambra y el Generalife de Granada’, affordable for everybody, due to the collaboration of the ‘Patronato de la Alhambra’ and the publishing house of the University of Granada. It includes a preliminary study of Professor Antonio Malpica who is linked to both institutions. Nobody has managed to produce a comprehensive and all-embracing discourse with technical and scientific aspects about and a deep analysis of the Alhambra like it did Don Leopoldo. Probably that is due to the fact that he is one of the most genuine representative of what we can call the “golden age” of Spanish Modern Culture; this generation arose phoenix-like from the ‘Generación del 98’, educated by the ‘Institución Libre de Enseñanza’ and worked as professionals according to those intuitive methods which – following Giner de los Ríos –imply the replacement of coercion, obligation and mechanism by personal effort and spontaneity; also which promote to work and study in a self-reliant way to develop an artistic sensibility by means of Art and the contact with the popular culture, the same as continuing education. That´s how  in the first 30 years of the 20th century, Spain is led to Europe’s scientific and cultural Avant-garde, especially during the periods of more progressive regimes and during the reforms made in education during the Republic and when there was liberal predominance during the Monarchy.
    Reading Torres Balbás’ works it is necessary to do so always warily, trying to interpret “his silences” and to read between the lines. In this book there is a lot of that intuitive reflection. Personally, I like to present the Alhambra paraphrasing Don Leopoldo precisely with an extract of this book, from the pages 45 to 48, what is, in my opinion, one of the best introductions ever written of the Alhambra and I really recommend savoring it pleasurably.
    Jesús Bermúdez.
    Scientific Consultant for Archaeology of the ‘Patronato de la Alhambra y el Generalife’.

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