Weekend Artists Series, Part 2: Juan Gris

Juan Gris - Obras más importantes

For me, one of the most important Spanish painters of the generation that, more or less, included Picasso, Dalí and Miró. Juan Gris was a real artist, and by that I mean that he created, (unlike Joan Miró), developed and worked his paintings so they became illustrative and representative of the style he and others like Picasso and Braque were developing, which was Cubism.

Juan Gris was born José Victoriano González-Pérez, on the 23rd of March 1887. From 1904 to 1906 he studied at the Escuela de artes y Manufacturas de Madrid. He then furthered his knowledge by studying with the well recognised Spanish painter José Moreno Carbonero. In Madrid he mostly worked as an illustrator to literary magazines…

Then (1906) he moved to Paris and met Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger y Georges Braque. For ten years he lived at the now famous Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre. (Léger, a French painter, is also known as one of the developers of cubism).

It would be in 1910 when he started to change from illustration to painting and created his first cubist works. There are very few examples of this first phase of Juan Gris’ work, however the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza does possess one of his drawings from 1911, supposedly a surprisingly radical one…

Then in 1912 Juan Gris clearly and definitely starts to work on cubism and exhibited his works at the Salón des Indépendents de Paris. Then in the summer of 1913 he went to Céret, where he began to work on the technique known as papier collé. This is done by using shapes cut from paper or cardboard, sometimes obtained from newspapers, that are then pasted on a a canvas and combined with oil paints. This was actually his principal input towards the further development of cubism.

From that starting point Juan Gris continued his work in cubism, while Picasso and others abandoned the style and ventured on to more figurative classism. He added more colour to his compositions and although this effort was undervalued in comparison with analytic cubism, recently his works of that period have regained recognition. In 2005 an anthology of those works was exhibited at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.

Like Picasso, Gris also designed sets for Sergei Diaghilev’s Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo…

He died on the 11th of May 1927 in Boulogne-sur-Seine.

Although there were not many paintings of Juan Gris in the most famous museums of Europe or America, in the 1980’s museums and collections began their acquisition of his works. Therefore there are many exhibited. For example there are 19 paintings at the Museo Reina Sofía and more, as many as six have been added to the collection as of 2016. An arts foundation formed by the telephone company of Spain has four of his works and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, as well as the Academia de San Fernando, also have works of Juan Gris, among other institutions.

I have prepared a companion post (a photo montage video on our YouTube channel) with some of the most interesting works of this great, yet slightly ignored, Spanish artist. I hope you enjoy, like, share and comment, as it would be very interesting to develop an international dialogue on Gris, and not only Gris, but cubism, abstraction, and any other aspect or school of art…



  1. Brad Osborne · 5 Days Ago

    I always learn so much from your series. This was well written and I am looking forward to seeing your montage of his works. I like that he stayed with cubism and further embellished the style through his years and art.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 5 Days Ago

      Thank you so so much for your time and your encouragement as well as those valuable replies with which you collaborate so finely my friend, you are always greatly appreciated.

  2. Sheree · 5 Days Ago

    I’m in agreement with Brad.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 5 Days Ago

      Cool Sheree, I am very glad you liked it, I do truly value your opinion and Brad’s always, thank you so much!

      • Sheree · 5 Days Ago

        No problem, I’m learning so much from you.

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 5 Days Ago

        I really appreciate your encouragement Sheree and I am learning so much from you as well. Thank you! 🙂

      • Sheree · 5 Days Ago

        You’re very welcome

      • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 5 Days Ago


  3. jupitergrant · 5 Days Ago

    Very interesting. Thank you 👍

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