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Juan Gris, Still Life With a Guitar

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Juan Gris, 1887-1927, whose original name was Jose Victoriano Gonzalez, was a Spanish painter whose lucidly composed still lifes are major works of the style called Synthetic Cubism. Gris studied engineering at the Madrid School of Arts and Manufactures in 1902-04 but soon began making drawings for newspapers in the sensuously curvilinear Art Nouveau style. He moved to Paris in 1906 and settled in Montmartre in the Bateau-Lavoir, an artists' dwelling where his compatriot Pablo Picasso lived. Gris was thus in touch with the evolution of Cubism. He did his first significant paintings in 1910 and adopted the Cubist style the following year. In 1912 the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler agreed to purchase his entire artistic output.

In 1913-14 Gris arrived at a personal and mature version of Synthetic Cubism characterized by rigorously geometrical compositions in which fragmented objects and sharp-edged planes are articulated with maximum clarity. A more theoretical painter than Picasso or Georges Braque, Gris systematized their discoveries, making their intuitions comprehensible and, consequently, helping to spread the Cubist style. His version of Cubism was more severe and classical, less spontaneous and instinctive, than theirs. Between 1921 and 1927 Gris transformed his Synthetic Cubist idiom so that his style became increasingly free and lyrical.