Juan Gris

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    Juan Gris: Cubist Painter



    One of the greats of the Cubist movement was Juan Gris, born from José Victoriano González Pérez on March 23, 1887, to a wealthy businessman in Madrid, Spain. In 1902 he moved to the Escuela de Artes Manufactures in Madrid to study mechanical drawing, which he left two years later. During his apprenticeship, he started working in local magazines. From 1904 he began his first painting lessons with the artist 'Académico.' In 1905, he took the pseudonym of Juan Gris. 


    The career of Juan Gris:      

    The painter and sculptor Juan Gris fled to Paris in 1906 and settled in a studio in the Bateau Lavoir, where his compatriot, Pablo Picasso, and other artists like Georges Braque and Max Jacob lived. 


    He made cartoons for magazines such as Le Rire, L'assiette au beurre, Le Charivari and Le Cri de Paris. However, he soon found himself in the avant-garde; his first works were "Post-Impressionists" and "Still Life."  In 1911 Juan spent a year with Picasso and was attracted to the "Cubist movement." 


    Different artworks of Juan Gris:

    He painted monochrome canvases of still life and held his first exhibition in a small gallery that was well received. His first masterpiece, "Homenaje a Picasso" (1912), was followed by his first masterpiece, shown in the Salon des Independents and the Salon d'Or. A German art dealer, Kahnweiler, who remained his agent throughout his life and even wrote his biography, offered Juan a contract. 


     He developed a new geometric style, "The Gray Grid," which he used in 1912 in his works "Der Mann im Café" and "Die Uhr." Juan later adopted a new technique that used long vertical stripes. However, he soon turned away from it and clung to the "paper collés," better known as collages, an invention of Braque and Picasso. 


     In 1913, Gris developed his cut-and-paste methods in which he used the elements in a "realistic" manner rather than just "cubist" representations. Juan’s paintings were much richer and more colorful, as seen in "Violin und Kupferstich" (1913), "Die Marmorkonsole" (1914) and "Die Blumen" (1914). 


    The World War resulted in Kahnweiler going into exile, and Juan, who evaded military service, remained penniless. A contract with Leonce Rosenberg helped him to survive until Kahnweiler's return. 


    She left Paris with her friend Charlotte (Josette) Herpin to settle in Beaulieu, where she made the "Portrait of Josette" (1916). Gris' skills grew rapidly, resulting in brilliant pieces such as "Violin and Glass" (1918) and the "Harlequin at the table" (1919). In 1920 Gris suffered a severe outbreak of pleurisy. 


    Later in 1924, Sergei Diaghilev commissioned him to design the sets and costumes for "Les- Tentation de la Berë." In 1925 Gris held his only exhibition outside of France in the Flechtheim Gallery, Düsseldorf. He saw a general decline in quality, but the artist managed marvels such as "Guitar with Notes" (1926). Juan Gris's health deteriorated rapidly, and he died on May 11, 1927, at the age of 40 in Boulogne Sur Seine, leaving his wife and son behind. 



    Juan Gris created only one sculpture in his life in 1917, a painted plaster called "Harlequin." From 1917 to 1920, Gris played with objects and shadows in his work, and used complex textures and bright colors in his paintings, including 'The Fruit Bowl on Checkered Canvas' (1917), so his works became more and more complicated. 


    His paintings showed that Juan was more interested in maintaining "realism" in his "cubist" art than Picasso or Braque. Before he died, he discovered a niche in the 'cubist' genre and created a masterpiece like "El Ciego."  "The Sunblind" is currently on view at the Tate Gallery in London.








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