Juan Gris Essays

Juan Gris, a Spanish-born painter, made important contributions to the modern style of painting called Cubism. GrisOs paintings were always depicting his immediate surroundings. He painted still lives composed of simple, everyday objects, portraits of friends, and occasionally landscapes or cityscapes. The objects in his paintings and collages are more clearly defined and richly colored than those in the works of the earlier cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.His attention to the object in his compositions, and more typically Spanish hues, link his work to the Spanish still-life tradition. That tradition presents itself in many of his works. In Gris, work Bottle of Anis del Mono he puts the whole label of the bottle. Most typical of which is PicassoOs Spanish Still Life. In this work, Picasso utilizes the precise red and yellow colors of the Spanish flag in depicting a ticket to a bullfight. Synthetic cubism was what Gris was painting. Pablo Picasso also being of Spanish decent used these influences.Cubism began as an intellectual revolt against the artistic expression of previous eras. Analytical Cubism and Synthetic Cubism are the two main terms used to describe paintings from this movement. In Analytical Cubism, the artist broke down, or analyzed, and then reassembled the observed forms in a mixture of ways. Similarly, in Synthetic Cubism, artists attempted to synthesize or combine imaginative elements into new representational structures. Among the specific elements abandoned by the cubists were the sensual appeal of paint texture and color, subject matter with emotional charge or mood, the play of light on form, movement, atmosphere, and the illusionism that proceeded from scientifically based perspective. Instead, Cubists used an analytic system in order to disjoint and reorganize the three-dimensional subject, which they were painting. In a shallow plane or within many interlocking and usually transparent planes the object would be lost and found again. Usually showing the object from different angles on a two dimensional plane.Originally, from Spain, Juan Gris moved to Paris in 1906. It was there where he learned and watched the progression of cubism. He met and lived next to innovators of this art form, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Although he is not the pioneer of this art form, his first significant paintings appeared in 1910 and…

…y. Such profound events, which altered French society, are certainly connected to the stylistic development of Cubism.GrisOs style was a commentary of the times. In his 1914 work, The Table, Gris pasted a newspaper headline onto the table, which when translated, means OThe True and the FalseO and the concept of illusion versus reality. The texture is independent of the objects. The wood grain representing the texture and material of the table seems to be distant from its outline, the glass of the table. Underneath it, there is a key meant to open the drawer to the table revealing no wood grain and what Gris felt was the OtruthO of the primed and plain white canvas. This paralleled the truth depicted in the headline. GrisOs ability to contrast the clearly defined images, with the extremely abstract and disorienting images, was his signature style during this period. Still Life with a Guitar is a perfect example of GrisOs early works in Synthetic Cubism. He retained this style throughout his career and it ultimately became his trademark.

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Antliff, Mark and Patricia Leighten, Cubism and Culture, Thames and Hudson, 2000.

Green, Christopher, Juan Gris, Yale, 1992.


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