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Juan Gris

Juan Gris

(1887 - 1927)
Born: Madrid, Spain
Style: Cubism
Famous Works:
  • Portrait of Pablo Picasso (1912)
  • Pears and Grapes on a Table (1913)
  • The Violin (1914)
Juan Gris was considered one of the most important artists working in the Cubist style in Paris, inventing methods of representation that complemented and expanded the breadth of the movement. The Madrid native moved to Paris in 1906 after studying mathematics and later painting. He settled in an apartment located near Pablo Picasso's, and supported himself by submitting illustrations to magazines and journals. In 1910 Gris began to focus on painting, and quickly established himself as a central figure within the Cubist group. Gertrude Stein collected his work, signaling the rapid rise of his attraction to both critics and collectors. Gris' creations involved slicing images into scattered pieces and reapplying them to the surface of the canvas to build a fractured design or architecture of shape. In 1913 Gris began to apply collaged paper, or papier collé, to his surfaces in the forms of still-lifes, a central method for Synthetic Cubists. Doing so allowed Gris to concentrate on the abstract shapes, forming a sense of realism from this highly methodical method. This approach was in opposition to previous modernists, who were abstracting from observation, rather than ordering abstraction. Gris' friendship with Henri Matisse no doubt inspired him to inject cubism with a shot of expressive color, and this approach can be observed in his work from approximately 1913. Gris carefully planned for each painting to break through the barriers of reality and allow the object to become a new form. Although his main contributions were his paintings, Gris also worked with polychrome sculpture, illustrations, and costume designs. Gris was only forty years old when he died of renal failure on May 11, 1927.
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