Juan Gris (b. 1887, Madrid; d. 1927, Boulogne-sur-Seine, France)
Juan Gris was born José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González-Pérez
in Madrid on March 23, 1887. He studied mechanical drawing at the Escuela
de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid from 1902 to 1904, during which time
he contributed drawings to local periodicals. From 1904 to 1905 he studied
painting with the academic artist José Maria Carbonero. In 1906
he moved to Paris, where he lived for most of the remainder of his life.
His friends in Paris included Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and
Pablo Picasso and the writers Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, and Maurice
Raynal. Although he continued to submit humorous illustrations to journals
such as L’Assiette au beurre, Le Charivari, and Le Cri de Paris,
Gris began to paint seriously in 1910. By 1912 he had developed a personal
He exhibited for the first time in 1912: at the Salon des Indépendants
in Paris, Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, the
Salon de la Société Normande de Peinture Moderne in Rouen,
and the Salon de la Section d’Or in Paris. That same year D.-H.
Kahnweiler signed Gris to a contract that gave Kahnweiler exclusive rights
to the artist’s work. Gris became a good friend of Henri Matisse
in 1914 and over the next several years formed close relationships with
Jacques Lipchitz and Jean Metzinger. After Kahnweiler fled Paris at the
outbreak of World War I, Gris signed a contract with Léonce Rosenberg
in 1916. His first major solo show was held at Rosenberg’s Galerie
l’Effort Moderne in Paris in 1919. The following year Kahnweiler
returned and once again became Gris’s dealer.
In 1922 the painter first designed ballet sets and costumes for Sergei
Diaghilev. Gris articulated most of his aesthetic theories during 1924
and 1925. He delivered his definitive lecture, “Des possibilités
de la peinture,” at the Sorbonne in 1924. Major Gris exhibitions
took place at the Galerie Simon in Paris and the Galerie Flechtheim in
Berlin in 1923 and at the Galerie Flechtheim in Düsseldorf in 1925.
As his health declined, Gris made frequent visits to the south of France.
He died in Boulogne-sur-Seine on May 11, 1927.