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 Juan Gris  (1887 - 1927)

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Lived/Active: France/Spain      Known for: cubist still life painting, graphics

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BIOGRAPHY for Juan Gris
1887 (Madrid, Spain)
1927 (Boulogne-sur-Seine, France)


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cubist still life painting, graphics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Juan Gris was born in Madrid, Spain in 1887. His real name was Jose Victoriano Gonzalez and he was the thirteenth child of a Madrid businessman. He had grown up and gone to engineering school, where he was known for doodling caricatures of his professors and fellow students. After a brief apprenticeship as a comic illustrator in Spain, Gris got to Paris in 1906. He installed himself as Picasso's neighbor in Bateau-Lavoir, a ramshackle cluster of studios in Montmartre.

When he moved to Paris at the age of nineteen, he considered himself strictly a graphic artist, an illustrator who contributed drawings to various periodicals. For the next six years, Gris was an observer rather than a participant in the upheavels that permanently changed the course of western art.

Gris began painting watercolors in 1910; the following year he allowed his friends to see his first authorative oils. His output was small and his conduct inconspicuous. From 1912 when he first showed his work, he was an accepted member of the Cubist group and kept pace with the evolution of the style, from Analytic Cubism through collage to Synthetic Cubism.

He was the least-known major French artist of the 20th century. Of the top four painters who created the language of Cubism in the early years of the twentieth century, Picasso. Braque, Fernand Leger and Gris, he was the youngest and also the first to die. He limited himself to painting only still lifes which lent themselves to the cubist form easily; Gris was obsessed with shape and only by shape. His paintings always seem to be logically structured out of interlocking forms and according to precise engineering principles.

It is said that Gris painted nothing of importance until 1910, and uremia killed him in 1927 just after his fortieth birthday. He died in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Robert Hughes in "Time Magazine", May 5, 1974
"Master Paintings from the Phillips Collection"
"The Oxford Companion to 20th Century Art", edited by Harold Osborne

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