Painted in 1926, just one year before Gris’ premature death, La tranche de melon is a boldly authoritative treatise on themes that preoccupied the artist from the early stages of Cubism. Firmly locked into place by a series of overlapping planes, the vase, newspaper and sliced melon are not characterised by the softness of many of the elements in Gris’ late compositions, gaining in the process solidity and clarity of definition that is the result of clearly defined boundaries and saturated areas of strong colour. While intense colour had always been a hallmark of Gris’ approach, the stark organisation of the present composition is doubtless a nod to his admiration for the work of Le Corbusier and the rappel à l’ordre following the First World War.
In the present work, Gris depicts the iconic front page of Le Journal, a daily newspaper first published in 1892 and which had become ubiquitous in Paris café culture by World War I. The geometric font of the headline typeset appealed to the Cubists and provided a foil to the more ornate typography of publications such as Le Matin. While works from 1910-1920 often incorporated collaged elements including actual newsprint, here Gris relies solely on the artist's hand, taking time to carefully re-construct the printed newspaper font in a manner that anticipates the early Pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
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