"I always pet a dog with my left hand because if he bit me I'd still have my right hand to paint with."

Happy Birthday, Juan Gris!


José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pérez (March 23, 1887 – May 11, 1927) was a Spanish painter and sculptor. Although born in Madrid, Gonzalez spent most of his life working in France. Gonzalez adopted the name Juan Gris in 1905 to try to sound more distinctive. Along with his countrymen and friends Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso, he helped to create Cubism.

José Victoriano González-Pérez was born in 1887 in Spain. He was the thirteenth child to a wealthy Castilian merchant. Gris studied at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas until 1904 with a focus on engineering and mechanical drawing. During his time at the school, Gris contributed some illustrations to local periodical reviews Blanco y Negro and Madrid Comico. The year after graduating, Gris decided to pursue an art career. He studied for a year with artist José Maria Carbonero and in 1906, Gris headed north to France.

After relocating to Paris, Juan Gris befriended artists Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger. He was also painted by Amedeo Modigliani. Gris submitted humorous illustrations to journals such as Le Rire, L'assiette au beurre, Le Charivari, and Le Cri de Paris. Gris found a studio apartment in the famous Bateau-Lavoir in the Montmartre district. Gris met Picasso, who lived in the vicinity, and Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and André Salmon, who were poets in Picasso's social circle.

"I prefer the emotion that corrects the rule."


Portrait of Picasso, 1912


Man in the Cafe, 1912


Le Lavabo, 1912

In 1910, Gris decided to commit himself more seriously to his artwork. He gave up drawing for the magazines and instead painted a series of watercolors. His subjects included landscapes, friends and basic surroundings. Gris held his first exhibition in 1911 at a small venue run by Clovis Sagot. The show went well and Gris was encouraged to send his work to the Salon des Indépendants. At this point, Gris's work was grid-based but far more definitive and rational than the future Cubism of Picasso. In 1912, his work was shown at Salon des Indépendants. The same year, his paintings were also exhibited at Section d'Or alongside Marcoussis, Gleizes and Metzinger. 


Landscape with Houses at Ceret, 1913


Landscape at Ceret, 1913


Violin and Checkerboard, 1913

After the success of his art show--where Gris sold paintings to Gertrude Stein and Leonce Rosenberg--he was offered a contract with Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler. Gris become interested in the collage style and his work was improving quickly. He began to incorporate more subtle patterns into his paintings and acheived a more "mature" result. Nevertheless, Gris would often spend his nights out on the town and his friends wondered how he had the energy to paint.

"You are lost the moment you know what the result will be."


The Man at the Cafe, 1914


Still Life Before an Open Window, 1915


Bottle of Anis del Mono, 1914

When the first World War began, Kahnweiler had to leave the country and instead, Gris made contact with art dealer Leonce Rosenberg. Gris's style evolved from analytic Cubism to a more Synthetic, avant-garde style. Unlike Picasso and Braque's monochrome paintings, Gris's work was full of color and resembled the bold and varied grades of Matisse.


Fantômas, 1915


Still Life with Checkered Tablecloth, 1915


Still Life with Fruit Dish and Mandolin, 1919

In 1920, Gris suffered from an attack of pleurisy. He spent some time designing sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev's famous Ballet Russes and gave a lecture at the Sorbonne in 1924 entitled "Des possibilités de la peinture." Gris enjoyed one more major exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Simon. He was rather sick when his work was shown abroad in Berlin and Düsseldorf. Gris suffered from uremia and cardiac problems and died in 1927, aged forty. He left behind a wife and son and inspired artists such as Amédée Ozenfant and the architect Le Corbusier. Gris's still life piece Livre, pipe et verres was sold in 1915 for $20.8 million and his Violon et guitare for $28.6 million in 2010.


Harlequin with Guitar, 1919


Le Canigou, 1921


The Painter's Window, 1925

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 23 March 2014
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