Juan Gris

John Florens | Nov 29, 2022

Table of Content


Juan Gris (real name José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González-Pérez) was a Spanish painter.

Along with Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, he is the main representative of synthetic cubism. Gris mainly painted still lifes in which he placed pictorial elements next to and on top of each other as a collage. Gris incorporated the new design principles of Cubism into a rational system and throughout his career endeavored to communicate his artistic approach theoretically as well.

Juan Gris, son of a wealthy merchant, was born José Victoriano González Pérez in Madrid on March 23, 1887. He was the thirteenth of fourteen children. Already in his early years, his uncle taught him the technique of painting. In 1902 he began his studies at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas art school in Madrid. In 1904 he finished his studies and began training as an artist with his close friend José Moreno Carbonero, who later became Salvador Dalí's teacher. Already at that time he painted some pictures oriented to the Art Nouveau style. He earned his living with book illustrations to poems by José Santos Chocanos. He signed his works with the artist name "Juan Gris".

In 1906, Gris left Spain at the age of 19 and moved to Paris. There he kept his head above water with caricatures for satirical magazines, and two years later he moved to the Bateau-Lavoir. The studios of the Bateau-Lavoir were a gathering place for many young painters and literary figures at the time. Gris met Pablo Picasso there; inspired by his studies, he again turned to painting.

From then on, Gris concentrated on analytical cubism. In 1911, he produced his first works, including houses in Paris, which show the first cubist traits. He had his first exhibition with 15 works at Clovis Sagot. That same year, Gris became friends with the German art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who signed Gris to a contract, guaranteeing him display space for his artwork in museums and exhibitions. In 1912 Gris painted a portrait of Pablo Picasso.

In 1913 Gris began his period of synthetic cubism. His first synthetic works emerged from his involvement with the work of Picasso and Braque. He incorporated elements such as newsprint, wallpaper, and broken glass into his works. Following the example of Braque and Picasso, he produced his first papiers collés, an early form of the collage process. In 1914, during a stay in the south of France, Gris first met the painter, sculptor and graphic artist Henri Matisse, who strongly influenced and refined his painting technique. From this time on, Gris found his own pictorial language, in which his mode of expression seems to have been consolidated. Amedeo Modigliani created a portrait of Gris in 1915.

Looking back on his beginnings, the theorist Gris commented in his essay Chez les cubistes, published in 1925 in the Bulletin de la Vie Artistique:

In 1916 Gris began his architectural phase, in which he placed more emphasis on the forms than on the colors in his paintings. Through his acquaintance the following year with the French sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, Gris began sculpting alongside his painting. Beginning in the 1920s, Gris's style became more poetic. He brought still lifes and landscapes together in one picture plane. He now frequently used a wave form for the outline design, which can be seen in his Pierrot and Harlequin depictions, for example. Gris now also worked frequently for the theater, creating costumes and decorations for Djagilew's Ballets Russes and Charles Gounod's opera La Colombe, among others. Furthermore, he was a sought-after book illustrator.

In 1925 Juan Gris fell seriously ill, his condition deteriorated rapidly. On May 11, 1927, he died in Paris at the age of forty from urine poisoning. Some of his works were shown posthumously at documenta 1 (1955), documenta II (1959) and documenta III in 1964 in Kassel. Juan Gris was admitted to the Masonic League at the Voltaire Masonic Lodge in Paris.


  1. Juan Gris
  2. Juan Gris
  3. ^ Jiménez-Blanco, María Dolores. "José Victoriano González Pérez". Diccionario biográfico España (in Spanish). Real Academia de la Historia.
  4. ^ Gris 1998, p. 124.
  5. ^ Geoffrey David Schwartz, The Cubist's View of Montmartre: A Stylistic and Contextual Analysis of Juan Gris' Cityscape Imagery, 1911-1912, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, December 1914
  6. a b Anne Ganteführer-Trier: Kubismus. 2007, S. 56
  7. Integrált katalógustár (német és angol nyelven). (Hozzáférés: 2014. április 26.)
  8. a b Encyclopædia Britannica (angol nyelven). (Hozzáférés: 2017. október 9.)
  9. Integrált katalógustár (német és angol nyelven). (Hozzáférés: 2014. december 11.)
  10. Encyclopædia Britannica (angol nyelven)
  11. a b The Fine Art Archive
  12. «Gris, Juan. José Victoriano González Pérez». Museo del Prado. Consultado el 3 de octubre de 2019.
  13. «Juan Gris». biografias.es. Consultado el 3 de octubre de 2019.

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