Life of Juan Gris Influences Cubist Google Doodle

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Google has posted a doodle celebrating what would be cubist artist Juan Gris’ 125th birthday.

It’s bright and springlike out but on Google, it’s a grey day. Or more to the point, the 125th anniversary of the birthday of Juan Gris; “John Grey,” being the translated pseudonym of the Cubist artist José Victoriano Carmelo Carlos González Pérez.

Gris could never hope to be the best-known Spanish Cubist, the title taken before him by Pablo Picasso, but his contributions were nonetheless greatly admired by the grande dame of the era, Gertrude Stein. Gris’ palette was more subdued than Picasso’s but not as grim as Georges Braque’s and his images were decidedly less fractured than either’s.

Before his ascent into that triumvirate of Cubists, Gris, who had studied mechanical drawing at Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid, sold caricatures and illustrations to magazines. When he turned to the medium of oil and canvas, he grew “disgusted with good painting” after having apprenticed in the studio of an old academic painter, José Moreno Carbonero. Gris soon fell under the spell of more modern influences and moved to Paris, the center of the movement.

While Gris considered himself a disciple of Picasso, Picasso was, in turn, largely dismissive of him. Though Picasso helped Gris secure studio space on occasion and the two did confer, Stein oftentimes marked and chided Picasso’s attitude toward the younger artist. Gris would address Picasso as cher maître (dear master), a term Picasso would then jokingly use on Braque, his co-conceiver of the Cubist movement.

Stein described Gris as “a perfect painter,” though his creative output extended to sculpture and even costume and set design. Gris worked with Sergei Diaghilev on Ballets Russes performances of Les Tentations de la Bergère; La Fête Merveilleuse, which was presented in the Palace of Versailles’ Gallery of Mirrors; and L’Education Manquée.

Gris sold all of his possessions so that he could move to Paris, which he did in 1906. But since he had dodged Spain’s obligatory military service, he had no passport and could neither leave France nor return to Spain. Though he petitioned for French nationality, he died of renal failure in 1927 without having received it.

Summing up Gris’ life in her “The Life and Death of Juan Gris,” Stein said, “Four years partly illness much perfection and rejoining beauty and perfection and then at the end there came a definite creation of something. This is what is to be measured.”

Check out some of Google’s recent doodles, including one celebrating the Vernal Equinox on March 20; another for St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th; and one for International Women’s Day on the 8th, as well as the slideshow below.

Also take a look at PCMag mobile analyst Jamie Lendino’s look at how Google has gone overboard with the doodles lately.

By Chandra Steele, PCMag


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