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Juan Gris

/Works and biography

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Bottle of Rum and Newspaper
(Bouteille de rhum et journal), June 1914
Paper collage, gouache, conté crayon,
and pencil on newspaper, mounted on canvas, 54.8 x 46.2 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 11


In 1913 Juan Gris began using the technique of papier collé developed by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, with whom he had been working in close contact since 1911. By 1914 Gris’s handling of the technique was personal and sophisticated. Here the pasted elements overlap and intermesh with one another in relationships calculated with mathematical rigor. These collaged papers cover the entire surface of the canvas, simultaneously forming an abstract composition and serving as a multilayered support for naturalistic details. The dynamism of the picture derives from the tension between horizontals, verticals, and thrusting diagonals. Gris presents the table as if it were viewed from several vantage points at once, demonstrating that a diagonal can be understood as a horizontal perceived from an oblique angle, and also suggesting the movement of the observer or artist around objects. The telescoping of a number of viewpoints in a single image produces the illusion of a spatial dislocation of the objects themselves. Dissected parts of the bottle of rum float beside, below, or above the drawing of the complete bottle, and confuse one’s perceptions of the bottle’s presence.

credits: Hangar Design Group