Juan Gris was born José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González-Pérez in Madrid on 23 March 1887. Between 1902 and 1904, he studied mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid before studying academic painting at the studio of José Maria Carbonero from 1904 to 1905. Over these years he also contributed to periodicals, such as Blanco y Negro and Madrid Cómico. In 1906, he moved to Paris, where he lived for most of the remainder of his life. His friends in Paris included Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso and the writers Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, and Maurice Raynal. In Paris, Gris continued to submit humorous illustrations to journals such as L'Assiette au beurre, Le Charivari, and Le Cri de Paris, during which he adopted his pseudonym, Juan Gris.
Gris began to paint seriously in 1910, developing a personal Cubist style. In 1912 he exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, with subsequent exhibitions at Galeries Dalmau in Barcelona, Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, and the Salon de la Section d'Or in Paris, establishing a name for himself. That same year Gris signed an exclusive contract with dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, with whom he developed a close relationship. During the summer of 1913, Gris spent time with Picasso in Céret, developing the papier collé technique pioneered by Braque and Picasso. Gris became a good friend of Henri Matisse in 1914 and two years later signed a contract with Léonce Rosenberg after Kahnweiler fled Paris at the outbreak of the First World War. His first major solo show was held at Rosenberg's Galerie l'Effort Moderne in Paris in 1919. The following year Kahnweiler returned and once again became Gris's dealer.
From 1922 to 1924, Gris designed ballet sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s Les Tentations de la bergère and La Colombe. Over the same period, he continued to paint and write theoretical essays, such as “Des possibilités de la peinture”, which he delivered at the Sorbonne in 1924. Major Gris exhibitions took place at the Galerie Simon in Paris and the Galerie Flechtheim in Berlin in 1923, as well as the Galerie Flechtheim in Düsseldorf in 1925. He died in Boulogne-sur-Seine on 11 May 1927.
Gris’ work features in numerous major public and private collections internationally, including: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.
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