Juan Gris Spain

3-23-1887 Madrid, ESP - 5-11-1927 Paris, FRA

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Gris, Juan

Born Jose Victoriano González-Pérez, Juan Gris began his art studies in Madrid before going to Paris in 1906 to work as a magazine illustrator.

An early associate of Picasso and Henri Matisse, he became one of the leading exponents of Synthetic Cubism from 1912 onward, the majority of his paintings involving the deliberate distortion and rearrangement of the elements. He also made extensive use of collage, such as strips of newspaper cut up and rearranged.

Juan Gris began to paint seriously in 1910, developing at this time a personal Cubist style. Jean Metzinger's 1911 work, Le goûter (Tea Time), persuaded Juan Gris of the importance of mathematics in painting. Gris exhibited for the first time at the 1912 Salon des Indépendants a painting entitled Portrait of Pablo Picasso.

He moved to Boulogne after World War I and in the 1920s designed costumes and sets for several of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes as well as working as a book illustrator. In his later years Juan Gris experimented with brighter, contrasting colors and also produced a number of multicolored sculptures.

The geometric structure of Juan Gris's Crystal period is already palpable in Still Life before an Open Window. The overlapping elemental planar structure of the composition serves as a foundation to flatten the individual elements onto a unifying surface, foretelling the shape of things to come.

The top auction price for a Juan Gris work is $57.1 million, achieved for his 1915 painting Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux. This surpassed previous records of $20.8 million for his 1915 still life Livre, pipe et verres and $28.6 million for the 1913 artwork Violon et Guitare. Closely connected to the innovative artistic genre Cubism, his works are among the movement's most distinctive.

Art Movement History: Synthetic Cubism
Artists Influencing Gris: Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso
He Traveled To: France

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