JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)
JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)
JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)
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JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)


JUAN GRIS (1887-1927)
oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 25 5/8 in. (92 x 65 cm.)
Painted in January-July 1925
Galerie Simon, Paris.
Carlo Frua de Angeli, Milan.
Mme Meric Gallery, Paris.
Perls Galleries, New York.
John Huston, Beverly Hills (by 1946).
Gift from the above to the family of the present owner, February 1973.
D.-H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris: His Life and Work, New York, 1968 (illustrated, pl. 306).
J.A. Gaya-Nuño, Juan Gris, Barcelona, 1975, p. 183, no. 211 (illustrated).
D. Cooper, Juan Gris: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, San Francisco, 1977, vol. II, p. 785, no. 524 (illustrated).
The University of Texas at Austin Art Museum (on loan).

Lot Essay

Gris' later years, before his tragic and premature death at the age of 40, were characterized by intense artistic activity during which time he created what Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler referred to as “the crowning achievements of his oeuvre” (quoted in L'Atelier de Juan Gris, exh. cat., Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1957), a favorable opinion shared by such luminaries as Douglas Cooper, Curt Valentin and Gertrude Stein. In 1923 Kahnweiler had held a major exhibition of Gris' work at his Galerie Simon in Paris, which was well received. In the following year the artist added to his growing reputation by delivering a notable lecture at the Sorbonne, Des possibilités de la peinture, which was shortly thereafter widely reprinted and translated into English, German and Spanish.
The figures of both Pierrot and Arlequin appear in Gris' oeuvre with regularity from 1917; in fact between 1918 and mid-1922, they account for all but one of Gris' 15 completed figure compositions. During this period, Gris switched seemingly indiscriminately between these two characters of the Commedia dell'Arte.
In Picasso's oeuvre, of course, the Arlequin is strongly identified with the artist himself, while images of friends such as Max Jacob or Guillaume Apollinaire fulfilled the role of Pierrot. “It was usual to see the writer or the artist in Pierrot and Harlequin. They had come to represent opposing notions of creative personality. The mercurial inventiveness and agile trickery of Harlequin was opposed to the ‘pure,’ direct sensitivity of Pierrot: the one cruel, the other vulnerable, but both equally impulsive and child-like” (C. Green, “Figures of Artifice and Substance,” Juan Gris, exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1992, p. 134). Throughout the early 1920s, Gris had frequent misunderstandings with both Picasso and Braque, often accusing them of unfair criticism of his work. This was also the time that both Picasso and Braque began definitively to abandon the tenets of Cubism, leaving only Gris true to its ideals. Furthermore Picasso had, in Gris' eyes, used Gris' ongoing Cubist aesthetic against him in taking a commission for Diaghilev's Ballets russes away from him in April 1921. Despite these perceived slights against him, however, Gris' reverence for Picasso's work remained undiminished and one can see in the present work the influence one artist had on the next.

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