Artwork Detail

Damier et cartes à jouer (Checkerboard and Playing Cards)
Spanish, 1887–1927
Oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 23 3/4 "
University purchase, Kende Sale Fund, 1946
WU 3790
The Spanish artist Juan Gris was a leading Cubist painter practicing in France in the early twentieth century. Like the work of his fellow artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, who pioneered the Cubist approach of painting fragmented objects from multiple perspectives at once, Gris focused on the relationship between dimensional forms and the flat canvas. In this painting familiar Cubist images—a glass, a napkin, playing cards, and a checkerboard—are rendered as flat, colored planes that closely overlap. During the mid-1910s, when he executed this work, Gris began his paintings with arbitrarily placed color fields, into which he introduced references to identifiable objects in such a way that their relation to different surfaces is difficult to ascertain. The checkerboard and glass, for example, are partially transparent, intersecting with the grounds on which they appear. [Permanent collection label, 2019. Revised 2023]