Juan Gris (1887-1927)

Perhaps the most famous of the Cubist artist besides Picasso is Juan Gris. Although he did not invent Cubism, Gris was just as important in this movement as Picasso and is known primarily for painting in the Cubist style.

Portrait of Josette Gris, 1916

Juan Gris was born Jose Victoriano Gonzalez-Perez in Madrid, Spain. He was originally trained in mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Spain. In 1905, he also studied art under Jose Maria Carbonero. In his early days as an artist, Gris submitted sketches and paintings to magazines in a style completely different from Cubism that featured the Parisian elite in an Oriental style, as well as caricatures.

Alegria, 1907

Le Frou Frou, 1910

By 1910, Gris began to take his painting more seriously, and during this time he made friends with Georges Braque, another leading Cubist. He was also friends with Matisse and Modigliani, and admired and worked with Picasso, whose Cubist portrait he painted in 1912.

Portrait of Picasso

It is said that this is one of the most important paintings from the early days of Cubism, and showed Gris’ great respect for Picasso. However, as art aficionado Gertrude Stein once commented, Gris was someone that Picasso would gladly have wiped off the map.

Harlequin with Guitar, 1919

Mandolino, 1919

Gris painted in both analytic and synthetic Cubism in a style completely different from most other Cubists at the time. While Braque and Picasso were painting their compositions in one color, Gris harkened on inspiration from friend and fellow painter Matisse and made his Cubist paintings colorful and lively.

Landscape at Ceret, 1913

Glass, Cup and Newspaper, 1913

The Open Window, 1921

Guitar and Fruit, 1926

Another way that Gris separated himself from other painters was by his use of papier colle, a type of collage art. This was a part of his synthetic experimentation with Cubsim, in which he would use labels, cards, and newspaper and magazine clippings and incorporate them into his compositions.

The Botte of Anis del Mono

The Man at the Café, 1914

Breakfast, 1914

The Sunblind, 1914

During his lifetime, Gris also created set designs for the Russian ballet. He died at the very young age of 40, his last known work begin “Woman with a Basket”.

Woman with a Basket

As one can see, Gris was again moving towards a more sophisticated style of Cubism at the time of his death. Who knows what kind of movement could have been created if his life wasn’t tragically cut short?

La Baie, 1923, sketch

Gris’ synthetic Cubist styles are well-known, and most are likely in public collections, and some of his paintings fetch millions of dollars at auction. However, his earliest paintings and compositions created in his final days may still be somewhere, unauthenticated and otherwise unknown. Still wondering about your mysterious Cubist painting? It may be by Juan Gris. Contact us to find out.