Today @ AK

Juan Gris

Spanish, 1887–1927

Le Canigou, 1921

Oil on canvas
25 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches (64.8 x 100.3 cm)
Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1947

This painting depicts the view from Juan Gris’s hotel window in the small town of Ceret, in the Pyrenees—Le Canigou is one of the range’s highest peaks. Gris painted numerous images of still lifes next to open windows, in part because he wanted to take on the challenge of successfully integrating near and far space in a composition. To accomplish this, he used several techniques. For example, the lines of the mountaintop are echoed by a corner of the table, a brown form just below the guitar, the lower edge of the book, and the tablecloth. The image of the mountain range continues onto the shutter at the right, and on the left, the white of the snowy peaks also appears on the guitar. The blue in the sky and the blue-gray on the edge of the shutter appear in the fore, middle, and backgrounds, further flattening the image. But there is more to this painting than simply formal concerns. The theme of inside versus outside was very important to Gris, who often included references to human activities such as music making, reading, wine drinking, and card playing in his work. For the artist, the indoors represented the human world, while the outdoors symbolized the more sensuous aspects of life. Paintings like Le Canigou, with shapes and colors that unite the two worlds, reflect the possibility of combining them.

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