Juan Gris

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José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González-Pérez (1887-03-23 - 1927-05-11), better known as Juan Gris, was a Spanish painter who lived and worked in France almost all of his life. His works are closely connected to the emergence of Cubism.


Still Life with Bordeaux Bottles, 1919
  • Cézanne made a cylinder out of a bottle. I start from the cylinder to create a special kind of individual object. I make a bottle — a particular bottle — out of a cylinder.
  • I try to make concrete that which is abstract.
    • Response to questionnaire circulated to the Cubists by Amédée Ozenfant and Le Corbusier, editors of L'Esprit Nouveau # 5 (February 1921)
  • No work which is destined to become a classic can look like the classics which have preceded it. In art, as in biology, there is heredity but no identity with the ascendants. Painters inherit characteristics acquired by their forerunners; that is why no important work of art can belong to any period but its own, to the very moment of its creation. It is necessarily dated by its own appearance. The conscious will of the painter cannot intervene.
    • "On the Possibilities of Painting," lecture, Sociétés des études philosophiques et scientifiques pour l'examen des idées nouvelles, Sorbonne, Paris (1924-05-15), printed in the Transatlantic Review, # 16 (June 1924), pp. 482-488; trans. Douglas Cooper in Horizon, # 80 (August 1946), pp. 113-122
Still Life with Fruitbowl and Mandolin, 1919
  • Painting for me is like a fabric, all of a piece and uniform, with one set of threads as the representational, esthetic element, and the cross-threads as the technical, architectural, or abstract element. These threads are interdependent and complementary, and if one set is lacking the fabric does not exist.

    A picture with no representational purpose is to my mind always an incomplete technical exercise, for the only purpose of any picture is to achieve representation.

    • "On the Possibilities of Painting," lecture, Sorbonne (1924-05-15)
  • Cubism is not a manner but an aesthetic, and even a state of mind; it is therefore inevitably connected with every manifestation of contemporary thought. It is possible to invent a technique or a manner independently, but one cannot invent the whole complexity of a state of mind.
    • Response to a questionnaire, from "Chez les cubistes," Bulletin de la Vie Artistique, ed. Félix Fénéon, Guillaume Janneau et al (1925-01-01); trans. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work (1947)
Still Life with Guitar, Book and Newspaper, 1919


  • Those who believe in abstract painting seem to me like weavers who think they can produce a material with threads running in one direction only and nothing to hold them together. When you have no plastic intention, how can you control and make sense of your representational liberties? And when you are not concerned with reality how can you control and make sense of your plastic liberties?
    • Letter to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1919)

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