MovementsArtistsTimelinesIdeasBlog
About us
Artists Juan Gris Art Works
Juan Gris Photo

Juan Gris

Spanish Painter, Illustrator, and Sculptor

Movement: Cubism

Born: March 23 1887 - Madrid, Spain

Died: May 11 1927 - Boulogne-sur-Seine, France

Juan Gris Timeline

Important Art by Juan Gris

The below artworks are the most important by Juan Gris - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Portrait of Picasso (1912)

Portrait of Picasso (1912)

Artwork description & Analysis: Gris idolized Picasso. A clever tribute to his mentor, his portrait depicts Picasso (founder of Cubism) in the Cubist style. Palette at the ready, Picasso is literally larger than life (taking up most of the space on the canvas). Working primarily in cool hues of blue, gray, and brown, he fractures the sitter's face into a prism of planes and geometric shapes that resolve into the parallel lines in the background. All parts of this picture seem to be in motion. While he and his fellow practitioners produced many more chaotic images, elements of formal portraiture, such as the legibility of the sitter's features, symmetry of the pose, and high-collared jacket (as opposed to a painter's smock), indicate his respect for the subject. It is entirely in keeping with the Cubist mission, however, in its divergence from traditional representation and effort to capture the dynamism of modern life.

Oil on Canvas - Art Institute of Chicago

Flowers (1914)

Flowers (1914)

Artwork description & Analysis: Around this time, Gris and other Cubists began incorporating collage elements, such as newspaper and wallpaper, into their paintings. Flowers represents a woman's marble-topped vanity table with a vase of roses, a coffee cup, and the morning paper. A tilting oval mirror reflects wallpaper printed with stylized Art Nouveau orchids. Newspaper and wallpaper (literal scraps of everyday life) force us to consider the subject through the lens of modernity. Once owned by the American writer Gertrude Stein, Flowers. Gris was particularly fond of rewarding close viewers with hidden messages. Upon close inspection, we glimpse a second coffee cup and pipe camouflaged by the table - evidence that the lady is not alone.

Crayon, Oil, Gouache, Wallpaper, Woven Paper, and Newspaper on Canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Still Life with Checkered Tablecloth (1915)

Still Life with Checkered Tablecloth (1915)

Artwork description & Analysis: Think of this painting as the masculine compliment to Flowers. Here, a small bistro table with a checked tablecloth almost overflows with an assortment of objects: a bottle of red wine, bunch of grapes, coffee cups, beer bottle, a stout ceramic pot of preserves, coasters, and a French newspaper. Like Flowers, it too contains a hidden message, this time, in reference to his native Spain: a bull's head. The snout is the coffee cup toward the bottom of the canvas, the ear is the bottle of Bass ale to the right, and the "bull's eye" is the black-and-white coaster to the left. It is a poignant reminder that the artist's homeland remained on his mind, though he would never be able to return there. Flagrantly breaking the rules, and combining "low art" (design elements such as the beer bottle logo and newspaper typography) with "high art" (the traditional still life elements), Still Life with Checkered Tablecloth illustrates his brilliance in furthering the goal of Cubism: making something new out of the connections between life and art.

Oil and Graphite on Canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Man from Touraine (1918)

The Man from Touraine (1918)

Artwork description & Analysis: A return to traditional values, subjects, and forms is reflected in Gris's work after 1918, and is typical of avant-garde painting in general in the years after World War I. From summer through fall of 1918, he temporarily relocated to Touraine, the countryside region where his wife, Josette, had grown up, and painted peasants in the traditional clothing of the region. Rather than a specific individual, the old peasant in this scene is an archetypal resident of the area. More somber in tone than many of his preceding works in the Synthetic Cubist mode, and simpler, limited to a figure and some objects arranged in two distinct planes, his representation of a farmer expresses a nostalgic mood and a yearning for an enduring, traditional way of life in a chaotic and uncertain time.

Oil on Canvas - Pompidou Centre, Paris

Harlequin with a Guitar (1918)

Harlequin with a Guitar (1918)

Artwork description & Analysis: A favorite of Picasso and other modernists who reexamined traditional sources after the war, Harlequin was a stock character in the commedia dell'arte (a form of masked theater that originated in sixteenth-century Italy) and a trickster figure with a tendency to act on whim and passion. Harlequin, a time-honored subject in art, appears in approximately 40 of his works produced between 1917 and 1925. Here, his background as an illustrator is visible in the cartoonish eyes and mouth, and the bright graphic lines that trace the figure and its costume. Warm color tones and a familiar subject lend the piece a reassuring stability, undermined somewhat by the slippage in details such as the knotholes, which appear to sliding off the table, and the fingers of Harlequin's right hand, which double as the contour of the guitar.

Oil on Panel - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Woman with a Basket (1927)

Woman with a Basket (1927)

Artwork description & Analysis: Gris's mysterious painting is of a woman holding a woven basket of vegetables in front of an oval window or mirror. The styling of her hair, face, and clothing recalls Greek and Roman depictions of women, illustrating the renewed interest in classicism and traditional representation of form among European painters after World War I. Like Harlequin and The Man from Touraine, she is a generalized type rather than an individual, perhaps a harvest goddess or an artist's muse. The basket she holds, an element of still-life, recalls his earlier paintings. The hidden message here is less obvious, and yet all the more compelling: the oval behind the figure (either a window or a mirror) is dark, suggesting the approach of death. The piece, one of his strongest and best-known, shows that he remained at the height of his power until the end of his career.

Oil on Canvas - Private Collection



By submitting the above you agree to The Art Story privacy policy.

Juan Gris Photo

Related Art and Artists

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)
Artwork Images

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)

Artist: Pablo Picasso

Artwork description & Analysis: This painting was shocking even to Picasso's closest artist friends both for its content and its execution. The subject matter of nude women was not in itself unusual, but the fact that Picasso painted the women as prostitutes in aggressively sexual postures was novel. Picasso's studies of Iberian and tribal art is most evident in the faces of three of the women, which are rendered as mask-like, suggesting that their sexuality is not just aggressive, but also primitive. Picasso also went further with his spatial experiments by abandoning the Renaissance illusion of three-dimensionality, instead presenting a radically flattened picture plane that is broken up into geometric shards, something Picasso borrowed in part from Paul Cezanne's brushwork. For instance, the leg of the woman on the left is painted as if seen from several points of view simultaneously; it is difficult to distinguish the leg from the negative space around it making it appear as if the two are both in the foreground.

The painting was widely thought to be immoral when it was finally exhibited in public in 1916. Braque is one of the few artists who studied it intently in 1907, leading directly to his Cubist collaborations with Picasso. Because Les Demoiselles predicted some of the characteristics of Cubism, the work is considered proto or pre Cubism.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

I Was a Rich Man's Plaything (1947)
Artwork Images

I Was a Rich Man's Plaything (1947)

Movement: Pop Art

Artist: Eduardo Paolozzi

Artwork description & Analysis: Paolozzi, a Scottish sculptor and artist, was a key member of the British post-war avant-garde. His collage I Was a Rich Man's Plaything proved an important foundational work for the Pop art movement, combining pop culture documents like a pulp fiction novel cover, a Coca-Cola advertisement, and a military recruitment advertisement. The work exemplifies the slightly darker tone of British Pop art, which reflected more upon the gap between the glamour and affluence present in American popular culture and the economic and political hardship of British reality. As a member of the loosely associated Independent Group, Paolozzi emphasized the impact of technology and mass culture on high art. His use of collage demonstrates the influence of Surrealist and Dadaist photomontage, which Paolozzi implemented to recreate the barrage of mass media images experienced in everyday life.

Collage - Tate Modern, London

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised by Ruth Epstein

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised by Ruth Epstein
Available from:
[Accessed ]