Violin and Guitar

Juan Gris1913

Museo Reina Sofia

Museo Reina Sofia

In 1913, the year of Violin and Guitar, Juan Gris had completely assimilated the Cubist principles, through his knowledge of the work of Picasso and Braque and his own research on Cézanne. However, Gris was never an academic Cubist, like so many who went so far as to create a Cubist rulebook without understanding the challenges of the new visual language. Gris elaborates his own, unique vocabulary based on solid, scientific training, on the realist painting tradition and on the poetic and autonomous conception of the picture, creating his own idiosyncratic style.

Violin and Guitar is a perfect example of the Cubism that Gris is engaged in during this period. The canvas is divided into vertical sections and he places in each of them some elements that, painted with total realism, are perfectly recognisable. The volume that characterised the objects included in his initial works has disappeared almost completely now – a glimmer of it can be seen in the fragment of the glass in the area to the right of the violin and guitar –, and the fragmentation of space, attained by means of a net of horizontal and vertical lines, is now a fact. This spatial conception is one of the most significant characteristics of Gris' own particular analytic method. The segmented pictorial surface acquires impressive plastic coherence, in which the painter combines colour, planes and linear shapes in compositions that define his personal Cubist style, based on constructive rigor that is almost mathematical and in the use of a refined chromatism.

He is adopting the technique of collage, that is, the superimposition of planes and figures, but without collage, in a kind of subversion of the subversion. Nor has he decomposed the shapes, but instead makes some shapes appear transparently over others. All of this is shown in an extended fashion in the central part of the canvas, without concern for creating a synthetic whole; it is the viewer who must recompose, in his or retina, all of these easily recognised elements.

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  • Title: Violin and Guitar
  • Creator: Juan Gris
  • Date Created: 1913
  • Style: Cubism
  • Provenance: Douglas Cooper Bequest, 1985
  • Physical Dimensions: w600 x h810 mm
  • Original Title: Violon et guitare
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas


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