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GRIS

Juan  Gris
(1887-1927)

Text from Edward Lucie-Smith, "Lives of the Great 20th-Century Artists"

"Juan Gris was a quietist, whose life was ostensibly marked by few major incidents. Though not the inventor of Cubism, he was one of its most able practitioners and evolved a very personal variety of it, combining elements which he had learned from Braque and Picassowith others which were his own personal invention. Typical of his approach was his remark about Cezanne, the universally acknowledged father of Cubism: 'Cezanne made a cylinder out of a bottle. I start from the cylinder to create a special kind of individual object. I make a bottle out of a cylinder.' A highly intelligent man, he had a marked impact on other painters - not only on the artists of the Section d'Or, the group with whom he identified himself, but also on senior members of the Ecole de Paris, such as Matisse, with whom he spent the summer at Collioure in 1914. He had a special sympathy for poets, and collaborated with a number of distinguished writers, among them Pierre Reverdy, whoseGuitare Endormie he illustrated, Gertrude Stein and Raymond Radiguet.

"Gris was a pseudonym: he was born Jose Victoriano González in 1887, in Madrid, the thirteenth child of a rich Castilian merchant. He studied first to be an engineer at the School of Arts and Manufactures in Madrid, which he entered in 1902. By the time he abandoned this for an artistic career he was already contributing illustrations to the reviews Blanco y Negro and Madrid Comico.

"Madrid at this time was an extremely provincial milieu, much more so than Barcelona, and as soon as he could Gris abandoned it for Paris, arriving there in 1906 at the age of nineteen. He found himself a studio at the famous Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, and was soon in contact with his compatriot Picasso, who also lived and worked there, and with the poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and André Salmon, who formed part of Picasso's circle. At first he supported himself by making humorous drawings for papers such as Lássiette au beurre and Le Charivari, but in 1910 he began his career as a serious artist by making a series of large watercolours. In the following year he started to paint. Gris's subject-matter was always his immediate surroundings: he produced still lifes composed of simple, everyday objects, portraits of friends, and occasionally landscapes or cityscapes.

"In 1911 (the year in which he spent time with Picasso at Ceret) he held his first exhibition, showing fifteen paintings at the little gallery run by Clovis Sagot. This was well received by those whose opinion he respected, and he was sufficiently encouraged to send three paintings to the Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1912. In October of the same year he showed his work in the Section d'Or exhibition, with Marcoussis, Gleizes and Metzinger. Since Braque and Picasso were not at this time showing their work, the Section d'Or was the public face of Cubism. Gris was clearly the most gifted of the group, and he attracted the attention both of dealers and of well informed collectors. Gertrude Stein and Leonce Rosenberg bought paintings, and Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler offered Gris a contract, which he accepted. His work was evolving rapidly; he had grasped the significance of collage almost as soon as it was invented by Braque and Picasso in 1912. This liberated his compositional sense enabling him to evolve the subtler patterns of overlapping planes characteristic of his mature work. At this time he was friendly with the Delaunays. Sonia recalled that he spent so much time at the Bal Bullier, their favourite night-spot, that they wondered that he still had enough energy left to work.

"The outbreak of war brought a momentary check, since Kahnweiler was an enemy alien and was forced to leave Paris. Gris's contract with him lapsed, but in 1917 he was able to make another with Leonce Rosenberg which tided him over until Kahnweiler's return to France, when he renewed his former allegiance. But in 1920, just after his new contract was signed, Gris suffered a serious attack of pleurisy, and his health was never to be strong again.

"Diaghilev was now taking an interest in Gris, having recognized in him a kind of classicism in tune with postwar taste. A first project, for Cuadro Flamenco, did not come to fruition, but in November 1922 Diaghilev commissioned Gris to design sets and costumes for Les Tentations de la Berë, which was premiered in 1924. In 1925 Gris had his first exhibition - and the only one in his lifetime - outside France, at the Flechtheim Gallery in Duesseldorf. His health was now very poor: bronchitis was succeeded by asthma and finally by uremia. Gris died on 11 May 1927 at the age of forty, leaving a wife, Josette, and a son, Georges."

 Gris_WB_B_FD

Gris, Juan Water-bottle, Bottle, and Fruit-dish 1915 Oil on canvas 81 x 65 cm (32 x 25 5/8 in.) Private collection, New York

 Gris_VIOLIN

Gris, Juan The Violin 1916 Oil on three-ply panel 116.5 x 73 cm (45 3/4 x 28 3/4 in.) Kunstmuseum, Basel

 Gris_VIOGLASS

Gris, Juan Violin and Glass 1915 Oil on canvas 92 x 60 cm. (36 1/4 x 23 5/8 in.) Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (DC 122)

 Gris_VIO_GTR

Gris, Juan Violin and Guitar 1913 Oil on canvas 100 x 65.5 cm (39 3/8 x 25 3/4 in.) The Colin Collection, New York (DC 57)

 Gris_TEACUPS

Gris, Juan Teacups 1914 Collage, oil and charcoal on canvas 65 x 92 cm Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

 Gris_TBLCLOTH

Gris, Juan Still Life with Checked Tablecloth 1915 Oil on canvas 116 x 89 cm (45 5/8 x 35 in.) Private collection (DC 127)

 Gris_SIPHON

Gris, Juan The Siphon 1913 Oil on canvas 81 x 65 cm Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

 Gris_RAVIGNAN

Gris, Juan Still Life before an Open Window: Place Ravignan 1915 Oil on canvas 116 x 89 cm. (45 5/8 x 35 in.) Philadelphia Museum of Art (DC 131)

 Gris_PICASSO

Gris, Juan Portrait of Picasso 1912 Oil on canvas 93.4 x 74.3 cm. (36 3/4 x 29 1/4 in.) The Art Institute of Chicago (DC 13)

 Gris_PEARGRAP

Gris, Juan Pears and Grapes on a Table 1913 Oil on canvas 54.5 x 73 cm. (21 1/2 x 28 3/4 in.) Mr. amd Mrs. Burton Tremaine Collection, Meriden, CT (DC61)

 Gris_PAINTER

Gris, Juan The Painter's Window 1925 Oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm (39 3/8 x 31 7/8 in.) The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (DC 543)

 Gris_OPWINDOW

Gris, Juan The Open Window 1921 Oil on canvas 65 x 100 cm. (25 5/8 x 39 3/8 in.) M. Meyer Collection, Zurich (DC 365)

 Gris_OIL_LAMP

Gris, Juan Still-life with Oil Lamp 1911-1912 Oil on canvas 48 x 33 cm Rijksmuseum Kroller-Mueller, Otterlo

 Gris_NO_NECK

Gris, Juan Bottle and Glass on a Table 1913-1914 Oil on canvas 61.5 x 38.5 cm Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva

 Gris_MUSPAPER

Gris, Juan Guitar and Music Paper 1926-27 Oil on canvas 65 x 81 cm. (25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in.) Saidenberg Gallery, New York (DC 608)

 Gris_MUSICIAN

Gris, Juan Musician's Table 1914 Fusain, graphite, and colored pencil on papier colle on canvas 81 x 59.5 cm. (31 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.) Private collection, New York (DC 84)

 Gris_MANDOLIN

Gris, Juan Still Life with Fruit Dish and Mandolin 1919 Oil on canvas 92 x 65 cm. (36 1/4 x 25 5/8 in.) Private collection, Paris (DC 303)

 Gris_MAN_CAFE

Gris, Juan A Man in a Cafe 1914 oil and papers pasted on canvas 99 x 72 cm (39 x 28 3/8 in.) Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York

 Gris_LEMON

Gris, Juan Fruit Dish, Glass, and Lemon (Still Life with Newspaper) 1916 Oil on canvas 73 x 60 cm (28 3/4 x 23 5/8 in.) The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (DC 188)

 Gris_LAMPS

Gris, Juan Three Lamps 1910-11 Watercolor on paper 61.8 x 47.8 cm Kunstmuseum Bern

 Gris_JOSETTE

Gris, Juan Portrait of Josette Gris 1916 Oil on panel 116 x 73 cm. (45 5/8 x 28 3/4 in.) Museo del Prado, Madrid (DC 203)

 Gris_INK

Gris, Juan Untitled (Violin and Ink Bottle on a Table) 1913 Oil on canvas 89.5 x 60.5 cm. (35 1/4 x 23 7/8 in.) Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf (DC39)

 Gris_HARLQUIN

Gris, Juan Harlequin with Guitar 1919 Oil on canvas 116 x 89 cm. (45 5/8 x 35 in.) Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (DC 321)

 Gris_HARLEQUIN_AT_TABLE

Gris, Juan Harlequin at a Table 1919 Oil on canvas 101 x 65 cm Morton G. Neuman Family Collection

 Gris_GUITAR2

Gris, Juan The Guitar 1914 Papier colle, gouache, fusain, and pencil on canvas 65 x 46 cm. (25 5/8 x 18 1/8 in.) Private collection (DC 118)

 Gris_GUITAR18

Gris, Juan The Guitar 1918 Oil on canvas 81 x 59.5 cm Telefonica de Espana, S.A.

 Gris_GUITAR

Gris, Juan The Guitar 1913 Oil and papier colle on canvas 61 x 50 cm. (24 x 19 5/8 in.) Private collection, Paris (DC42)

 Gris_GUITABLE

Gris, Juan Guitar on a Table 1915 Oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm. (28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in.) Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Netherlands (DC 150)

 Gris_GRIS_DISH

Gris, Juan Guitar and Fruit Dish 1919 Oil on canvas 60 x 73 cm (23 5/8 x 28 3/4 in.) Jerome H. Stone Collection, Chicago DC 322

 Gris_GRIS_BOTTLES_AND_KNIFE

Gris, Juan Bottles and Knife 1911-12 Oil on canvas 54.6 x 46 cm Rijksmuseum Kroeller-Mueller, Otterlo

 Gris_GERANIUM

Gris, Juan The Pot of Geraniums 1915 Oil on canvas 81 x 60 cm. (31 7/8 x 23 5/8 in.) Collection S (DC 144)

 Gris_FLOWERS

Gris, Juan Still Life with Flowers 1912 Oil on canvas 112.1 x 70.2 cm The Museum of Modern Art, New York

 Gris_FANTOMAS

Gris, Juan Fantomas (Pipe and Newspaper) 1915 Oil on canvas 59.8 x 73.3 cm. (23 1/2 x 28 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (DC 146)

 Gris_CHECKER

Gris, Juan Violin and Checkerboard 1913 Oil on canvas 100 x 65 cm. (39 3/8 x 25 5/8 in.) Stephen a. Simon and Bonnie Simon Collection (DC60)

 Gris_CHAIR13

Gris, Juan Guitar on a Chair 1913 Oil on canvas 100 x 65 cm Private collection

 Gris_CERET2

Gris, Juan Landscape at Ceret 1913 oil on canvas 92 x 60 cm (36 1/4 x 23 5/8 in.) Moderna Museet, Stockholm

 Gris_CERET

Gris, Juan Landscape with Houses at Ceret 1913 Oil on canvas 100 x 65 cm. (39 3/8 x 25 5/8 in.) Galeria Theo, Madrid (DC56)

 Gris_CARAFE

Gris, Juan Fruit Dish and Carafe 1914 Oil, papier colle and charcoal on canvas 92 x 65 cm Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo

 Gris_CANIGOU

Gris, Juan The Mountain "Le Canigou" 1921 Oil on canvas 65 x 100 cm. (25 5/8 x 39 3/8 in.) Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (DC 384)

 Gris_BRKFST2

Gris, Juan The Breakfast 1915 Oil and charcoal on canvas 92 x 73 cm. Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris

 Gris_BREAKFST

Gris, Juan Breakfast 1914 Papier colle, crayon, and oil on canvas 80.9 x 59.7 cm. (31 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.) The Museum of Modern Art, New York (DC 92)

 Gris_BEER

Gris, Juan Glass of Beer and Playing Cards 1913 Oil and papier colle on canvas 52.5 x 36.5 cm. (20 5/8 x 14 3/8 in.) Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (DC36)

 Gris_BANYULS

Gris, Juan The Bottle of Banyuls 1914 Pasted papers, oil, charcoal, and gouache, and pencil on canvas Kunstmuseum Bern