A wonderful example of Gris’ mature works, Compotier et livre is the epitome of his masterful Cubist aesthetic. Daniel Kahnweiler called works from the period “the crowning achievement of his oeuvre” (L’Atelier de Juan Gris (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1957, n.p.). Illustrative of what Gris described as his “deductive method” in which he would begin with abstract shapes, he materializes these forms into objects, firmly locking them into place by using a series of overlapping planes.
This harmonious composition contains the vital elements of Gris’ Cubism: the balance of the book, knife, pipe and fruit creates what the art historian Robert Rosenthal described as a “hermetic relationship of pictorial elements, one balanced by the next and then another until the subtlty of resonance reaches an exquisite pitch” (Norman Rosenthal, Juan Gris, New York, 1983, p. 5).
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