Juan Gris, (Spanish, 1887– 1927), one of the pioneers of the Cubist movement, was born in Madrid, Spain. From 1902 to 1904, he studied mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid, during which time he contributed drawings to local periodicals. In 1904, he began to study painting with the artist Jose Maria Carbonero. After moving to Paris in 1906, he made friends with contemporaries Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963). With their influence, he began painting in an analytical Cubist manner, loosening his compositions from their mechanical beginnings. He received exposure for the work he did in this style, exhibiting for the first time in 1912 at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon de la Section d’Or in Paris. By 1913, Gris was exploring the papier collé style, a technique of collage that Picasso and Braque had become fond of. Using this method, Gris incorporated printed papers into his compositions, and even included numbers and symbols.

Gris approached his work with a systematic, almost mathematical eye. The term Synthetic Cubism was coined, representing the style to which Gris would remain faithful throughout the rest of his career. His use of colors and contrasting shapes create a visual rhythm in his pictures, allowing viewers to easily immerse themselves in his compositions, which were not unlike those of his friend Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954).

In 1920, Gris suffered an attack of pleurisy, and his health suffered for the rest of his life. Five years later, he was able to hold one of his only exhibitions, at the Flechtheim Gallery in Duesseldorf. He frequently visited the South of France as his health continued to decline. Gris died in May of 1927, at the age of 40.

Exhibitions

1974
Juan Gris, Paris, France
1971
The Cubist Epoch, Los Angeles, CA
1965–1966
Juan Gris, Dortmund & Cologne
1961
Collections of Alumni, Cambridge, MA
1953
Fiesta Exhibition, Santa Barbara, CA