Juan Gris
(Madrid, 1887-1927, Paris)
Carafe, Bowl and Glas, 1919
Oil on canvas, 33 x 41 cm
Signed & dated lower right: Juan Gris 5-19
Cooper 304
When Juan Gris in 1911/12 was painting his first Cubist pictures, the initiators of this movement, Picasso and Braque, had just done their strictly conceived analytical Cubist paintings. The chromatic-reanimation of its purist elements by synthetic Cubism is the stylistic phase that leads Juan Gris to his own masterpieces of 1913/14 in which the glowing colours of Spain are united with French clarity of form. The First World War, which does not immediately concern the Spaniard living in Paris, nevertheless interrupts the organic development of creative contacts.
The Bührle Collection's two small still lifes of the same size done in May 1919 represent the transformed synthetic Cubism of the post-war period. The trivial objects, in so far as they are worthy of mention, remain the same: fruit bowl, bottle, glasses and the folded newspaper, which becomes clearer if we compare almost contemporary and much more realistic drawings. Such a comparison also reveals something that remains baffling if we look at the picture: Gris binds together the various objects in accordance with light, colour and shadow values and telescopes them together, so that, e.g., the fruit bowl merges formally with a corner of the table, into which a bottle shape is projected which has grown out of a napkin lying on the table.