Cubism: A History and An Analysis, 1907-1944

By John Golding | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
PICASSO, BRAQUE AND GRIS 1912-14

In 1911 Picasso and Braque were joined in their creation of Cubism by a third painter, the Spaniard Juan Gris. Gris has, in a sense, no real history before this. Younger than Picasso and Braque by some five years, Gris arrived in Paris in 1906 at the age of nineteen. Knowing no one there, he sought out Picasso, and soon he installed himself in the same studio building in the rue Ravignan. In Spain Gris had begun to work as a commercial illustrator, and he continued to do so for several years in Paris, but, finding himself in the midst of a creative and original circle of people, he soon began to take his work more seriously. Apart from the commercial work only a few examples of Gris' earliest works are known. These are drawings and gouaches executed in a tight, refined, highly decorative, art nouveau style. By 1910, however, he had begun to work simultaneously in a more straightforward, naturalistic way, and by 1911 he was painting in oils. On January 1st, 1912, Paris Journal announced that some fifteen of his pictures were on show at Clovis Sagot's gallery. A few months later, in March, Gris made his début at the Salon des Indépendants with three canvases, one of which was an Hommage à Picasso (Pl. 43), and during the year he contributed to three exhibitions of Cubist painting.1 After showing at the Section d'Or he signed an exclusive contract with Kahnweiler and, like Picasso and Braque, stopped showing his work publicly.

Gris became familiar with the art of Picasso just as it was entering its most crucial stage, that is to say in the months before he began the Demoiselles d', Avignon. Gris was an intelligent and intensely serious and thoughtful young man, and must have followed the development of Picasso's Cubism step by step, so that when he began to paint seriously in 1911 he might have been expected

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1
At the Galeries Dalmau, Barcelona, 20 April-10 May 1912; Société de Peinture Moderne, Rouen, 15 June-15 July 1912. La Section d'Or, October 1912.

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