In the years following World War I, Juan Gris moved away from his earlier more complex Cubist compositions, and embraced a more pared down, elegant style, which was largely influenced by the rappel à l'ordre that influenced most of the Parisian avant-garde art during the post-war years. The subject of still-life remained Gris's favourite motif, and in the present work he depicted some of the key elements of Cubist iconography - a knife, a bunch of grapes, a piece of fruit and a brown paper bag, all arranged on an ambiguous surface, with geometric designs marking an abstract compositional frame. One of the main characteristics of this new style in Gris's art was the use of formal 'rhymes', where a single shape denotes different objects. In the present work, for example, the bunch of grapes morphs into the cuboid shape adjoining it. Writing about this period in Gris's painting, Douglas Cooper and Gary Tinterow discuss how he 'abandoned the late "synthetic" Cubist style that he had developed since 1916 in favour of a more fluid, "poetic" style of painting, in which he preserved much of the essential pictorial discipline of Cubism and of his own methods of non-illusionistic representation which he had been developing from the start of his career' (The Essential Cubism
(exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1983, p. 178).
Reflecting on Gris's œuvre more broadly, Mark Rosenthal writes the following: 'Gertrude Stein called Juan Gris "a perfect painter", and it is not difficult to appreciate her characterization. In a painting by him we find an intensely satisfying, hermetic relationship of pictorial elements, one balanced by the next and then another, until the subtlety of resonance reaches an exquisite pitch. The pictures demonstrate an equally refined relationship between the abstract play of forms and their starting point in the natural world. This dialectic unites, too, the theoretically pure image of an object and the existence of it as witnessed by an individual in time and space. Thus, if perfection represents, among other things, wholeness, purity, and the achievement of an absolute, then Gris's finest works are worthy of the appellation “perfect”’ (M. Rosenthal, Juan Gris, New York, 1983, p. 9).