A dumb daydream, but if I were told I could own any painting by any painter, well… that’d be a hard choice. But I guess I’d probably choose a still life by artist José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González-Pérez, a.k.a. Juan Gris. I am able to lose myself completely in his line, shapes, color, pattern and texture. Seeing his work makes me so damn happy. If I am actually able to come across his work in person, my eyes smile for months. It’s no secret that I love Cubism, and Juan Gris was a master of that style. In my opinion, Gris helped realize it’s visual potential as much as anybody.
Saying that may seem like a stretch, especially since Cubism was thought up, invented and originally developed by Picasso and Braque. They were the first pioneers of the artistic movement. Their early work, often called Analytic Cubism, broke their subjects apart into it’s most basic shapes and colors. Many other artists were inspired by these ideas and shapes. As the Cubism evolved, it became even flatter and often more simplified and, in a lot of cases, more colorful. These later Cubist works were often defined as Synthetic Cubism, and the artists who came after Picasso and Braque were sometimes labeled Salon Cubists. Even though early on in his career he painted in a more Analytic style, Juan Gris’ work as a whole is a fine example of a more evolved and fleshed out Synthetic style.
Gris was born in Madrid in 1887 but moved to Paris in 1906, where he became friends with Matisse, Braque, Léger, and later Modigliani. By 1910 Gris was serious about his artwork and developing his own personal Cubist style. I think it was Gris who began using bright colors in his compositions, which had a huge influence on what came after. Gris was fairly young when he died of kidney and cardiac problems, only 40 years old. What he left behind, to my eye at least, is perfect.