John Gray


José Victoriano González, known as Juan Gris , was born on March 23, 1887, in Madrid, Spain and died on May 11, 1927, in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France. He was a Spanish painter whose lucid composite still lifes are his important works within the style called Synthetic Cubism . He is recognized as a more theoretical painter than Picasso or Braque, and it is considered that he systematized all his discoveries, making his intuitions understandable and, consequently, helping to spread the Cubist style.


Personal information

  • When was he born:  03/23/1887
  • Where he was born:  Madrid, Spain
  • When he died:  05/11/1927
  • Where he died:  Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Who was Juan Gris?

Juan Gris was the master of synthetic cubism who introduced the method of cubist praxis , through the perfect definition of his work, highlighting clear and regular forms , characters in the foreground and adding color with visual rhythms and elegant harmonies.


Biography of Juan Gris

Juan Gris was born on March 23, 1887 in Madrid . He was the son of an important paper businessman named Gregorio González and his mother Isabel Pérez , with whom he had fourteen children. In his childhood years he entered the School of Arts and Crafts in the capital, where he studied engineering between 1904 and 1906, and then he devoted himself to study with José Moreno Carbonero. He moved to Paris in 1906 and settled in Bateau-Lavoir , an artists’ residence where his compatriot Pablo Picasso lived  He worked for different publications such as Blanco y Negro and Madrid Cómico. Gray was in constant contact with the evolution of theCubism , a style started by Picasso and Georges Braque around 1907. He made his first major paintings in 1910 and adopted the Cubist style the following year. In 1913, Gris created his own personal and mature version of Synthetic Cubism and his works were characterized by rigorously geometric compositionsin which fragmented objectsandsharp-edged planes are articulated with utmost clarity. In August 1925 his health was affected, he suffered from bronchitis and severe asthma attacks. On May 11, 1927, he died when they were barely forty years old. Despite his early death, Juan Gris has been considered one of thegreat masters of cubism.



The main characteristics that make Juan Gris a renowned painter are:

  • Introduced synthetic cubism .
  • He created the method of cubist praxis that refers to the perfect definition of work while maintaining a strong and personal ethos in his works.
  • It uses the flat character and the clear and regular structure .
  • The Color and the shadows are reflected in his works, in addition to the visual rhythms and harmonies.
  • In the paintings the traditional perspective is not appreciated .
  • He focuses on the forms that nature has through the use of geometric figures , fragmented lines and different surfaces.
  • Use multiple perspective representing all parts of an object within the same plane.
  • The frames do not present any sense of depth .
  • The colors that were representative of Impressionism or Fauvism are no longer used with Juan Gris, on the contrary, gray , green and brown colors are used .
  • It gives importance to the expression of movement seeking to capture the fourth dimension of the human mind.
  • Break down shapes and figures into different, geometric parts , to be able to examine them individually.
  • Describes still life by means of mainly light-dark monochrome colors , by means of shadows

Outstanding works by Juan Gris

Some of his most outstanding works are:

  • Bottles and Knives , made in 1912, in which the author plays a leading role.
  • Violin and guitar , created in 1913, a sample that reflects that Juan Gris also used a bit of color in his works.
  • Guitar and Pipe work that can be found in the Dallas Museum of Arts.
  • Glasses, newspaper and bottle of wine where he used ambiguity and ocher tones.
  • Portrait of Josette , based on the period of classicism and in which gray and brown tones prevail.
  • Portrait of Pablo Picasso , was a work he did in honor of his friend Pablo Picasso.
  • Harlequin with guitar , painted in 1917 in which harlequins come to play an important role through geometric figures.
  • The Woman in the Basket was one of his main works and he painted it before he died of a lung disease.

The open window

The open window theme combined indoor and outdoor space in a personal and original way. Its elements are simple and with opaque , flat colors , with rigid lines and strong angles. A table in which he places various elements and in the background an open window in which you can see the sea, the mountains and the sky. The frame has an almost perfect sense of depth .

The guitar in front of the sea

In this work of the author, a guitar , a sheet music or a book , a playing card, a fruit and a newspaper are observed on a table . In the back, a window, the sea with a sailing ship, some mountains and the blue sky. The table becomes the windowsill . It is a picture full of movement in which the objects appear little by little and all of them can be observed from a different point of view using the shadows to give the sensation of depth. All the elements of the painting are figurative and this is one of the most remarkable features of Juan Gris’s creation.

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