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Juan Gris, one of the three musketeers of Cubism

Juan Gris, one of the three musketeers of Cubism


Juan Gris, at the registry office José Victoriano Gonzàlez, was one of the pioneers of Cubism. Born in Madrid on 23 March 1887, from an early age he is passionate about satire and begins to create humorous cartoons for local newspapers, an activity he will continue to carry out afterwards, when he becomes a famous painter.

From 1902 to 1904 he studies industrial design in Madrid, while between 1904 and 1905 he studies painting with José Maria Carbonero. Then he goes to Paris, where he gets in touch with Amedeo Modigliani and other important artists such as Georges Braque, Fernand Leger and Henri Matisse, but the most important meeting he has with Pablo Picasso, who will also become his dear friend. Both have a strong interest in Cubism and in the following years this passion turns into a greater interest in analytical Cubism. A clear example is the portrait that the artist makes of Picasso in 1912, which over the years will become one of the most important Cubist masterpieces.

The transformation is not over here, in fact between 1914 and 1918 Juan Gris partly departs from analytical Cubism and approaches what is defined as synthetic Cubism and he becomes one of its major exponents. It is a Cubism founded on a scientific and rational spirit, which will lead him towards a form of classical intellectualism.

In his works, Juan Gris remains far from monochromatism and he uses very bright colours that are marked by a certain harmony, a choice that shifts interest from the subject to the structure of the painting. In essence, the image is synthesized and analysed on the basis of geometric and mathematical models.

In the following years Juan Gris continues his theoretical studies and, in the meantime, he begins to work for the sets and costumes of the "Russian Ballets", as well as to exhibit his work at exhibitions held in Paris, Berlin and Dusseldorf.

Unfortunately, Juan Gris dies at the age of 40, on 11 May 1927 in Boulogne-sur-Seine, due to kidney failure caused by heart problems, leaving his wife Josette and their son Georges. A great friend of Pablo Picasso, there has always been respect and solidarity between the two artists, and Juan Gris considered Picasso as his teacher.

As for the works created by Juan Gris, we can say that they are very well quoted, in fact some have been sold for several million dollars, as in the case of the painting "Violin and guitar" which in 2010 was purchased for 28 million dollars. Among his most famous works we also remember "Still life cards and bottles" made in 1916, "Guitar with ornaments", "Guitar and clarinet" (1920), "Still life with lamp" of 1919, "Leaves", "Glasses on the table", "Still life with mandolin", etc.

Pure thought and geometric rigor are the main characteristics that belong to the pictorial style of Juan Gris, also called one of the three musketeers of Cubism, able to fascinate through the essentiality of synthetic Cubism that can be seen in each of his paintings, carefully studied and created to convey unique emotions.

Article by: Aurora Caraman