José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pérez, known as Juan Gris, was born on March 23, 1887, in Madrid, Spain. At his birth, neither Gris’ Andalusian mother nor his Castlian father knew he would mature to become a highly influential leader in the art world. However, when Gris was between six and seven years old, his sister noticed his artistic abilities.
Juan Gris was educated at the School of Arts and Crafts in Madrid after receiving a “general education” earlier in life. Around this time Gris’ family experienced severe financial hardship. This was a blessing in disguise to Gris, who was catapulted into being a working artist as he sold his artwork to provide for his family. Soon after this, Gris began painting professionally.
Spanish painter Moreno Carbonero later became Gris’ primary teacher in painting. While in Carbonero’s studio, Gris immersed himself in artistic culture by actually living in community with writers and painters. This atmosphere was perfect for Gris’ maturation as an artist. Such Complementary Colors.
During the time that Juan Gris was in Moreno Carbonero’s studio, modern art began to become more prevalent in Spain. This was due in part to the infiltration of German art reviews and publications. Gris would later become a leader in “Modern-Style” art, namely Cubism.
In 1906 Juan Gris relocated to Paris to further pursue art. Magazines and newspapers bought Gris’ satirical drawings, enabling him to reside in Paris. While living in Paris, Gris befriended Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger.
Gris developed his personal style for several years, and then exhibited his work for the first time at Salon des Indépendants in 1912. Later that year he exhibited in Rouen, Barcelona, and Section d’Or (Paris). Growing in his personal cubist style and public popularity, Juan Gris sold works to individuals such as Gertrude Stein, Alfred Flechtheim, and Léonce Rosenberg.
As is the case with most artists, Juan Gris’ style evolved over time. Analytic cubism was the first style Gris acquired, but synthetic cubism became his focus around 1913. He created much collage art during this phase of his career.
Like Matisse, Gris used bright colors in his paintings. Though bold, Juan Gris’ paintings were and are clear and orderly. This order and clarity of style can be seen in the art of Amédée Ozenfan and Charles Edouard Jeanneret, whose works were inspired by Gris.
Gris demonstrated the breadth of his artistic abilities when he began designing sets and costumes for ballets under the watch of Sergei Diaghilev in 1924. Between 1924 and 1925, Gris gave a notable lecture, Des possibilités de la peinture, which expounded on his personal style. Around this time major art galleries in Berlin, Paris, and Düsseldorf exhibited Gris’ works. Without a doubt, Juan Gris had made his mark on the art world as a cubist painter.
Illness became a regular occurrence in Juan Gris’ life after the year 1925. Gris often suffered uremia and had cardiac problems. On May 11, 1927, Gris died in Paris. Renal failure was the cause of Gris’ death at the relatively young age of 40. Gris was survived by his wife, Josette, and his son, Georges.
Juan Gris was a man of extraordinary talent. The world took notice of Gris’ talent and embraced it, which moved Gris forward into fame and artistic prestige. With Gris’ art pieces selling for tens of millions of dollars, the art world is still acknowledging today the value of his work.
Cubist artist Juan Gris got a chance to live out what most artists only dream of. His life is one that continues to speak to generations about the power art holds when it is presented in a unique, organic form.
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