Starting in 1915, the year that Gris would paint Still Life and Landscape. Place Ravignan, the theme of a still life before a window takes on great importance in his work. This type of composition allowed him to go more deeply into the contrast between Cubist introspection, applied to the still life, and the Mediterranean extroversion and happiness with which he approached landscape. In this regard, as the historian Mark Rosenthal has pointed out, the relationship with Matisse in Collioure, in the autumn of 1914, was of great importance, as Matisse had addressed the theme of the open window since the beginning of his career. Gris made use of this type of composition to work more deeply on the three dimensional treatment of the Cubist plane, something that differentiates him from the Cubism of Picasso or Braque. The Madrid-born artist thus includes contrasts of light and shade, from outdoor settings, in the Cubist representation of the still life situated in the foreground of the composition.

In this work, Gris gives up his pictorial discoveries of 1917 to bring about a clearer and more expressive separation of interior and exterior. This separation of spaces, and also the relevance of the musical instrument that characterises the interior, may have been influenced by Matisse. Until the latter painted his 1917-1918 paintings, never before in the history of the open window motif had a musical instrument appeared before it, although some allegories of the senses contained certain indications. It must be pointed out, however, that Gris had anticipated this conjunction of themes much before 1921. During the spring of 1906 he illustrated a book of poetry entitled Alma América, by the Peruvian poet José Santos Chocano. One of the images in this book so clearly predicts the 1921 painting that it leads to the thought that Matisse did nothing but corroborate Gris' inclinations. In this illustration, he placed the guitar in front of the sea. Although the intermediate window is missing, the effect produced is that of two different kingdoms poetically juxtaposed. The instrument and the music suggest that the interior is the intellectual world of art, very different from the simplicity and sensoriality of nature. However, there are similitudes between the two places and there is even a possibility of the two blending together, as indicated in the rhythmic repetition of the curves of the guitar and the mountains, and the cloud that is beginning to enter the room.


  • Title: The Open Window
  • Creator: Juan Gris
  • Creator Death Place: Boulogne-sur-Seine, Île-de-France, France
  • Creator Birth Place: Madrid, Spain
  • Date Created: 1921
  • Style: Cubism
  • Provenance: Bought, 1999
  • Physical Dimensions: w1000 x h660 mm
  • Original Title: La fenêtre ouverte
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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