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Nature morte (Bouteille et verre) [Still Life (Bottle and Glass)]

Not on view

Nature morte (Bouteille et verre) [Still Life (Bottle and Glass)]

Artist: Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887 - 1927)

Date: 1917
Medium: Oil on wood
Overall: 18 x 10 1/2in. (45.7 x 26.7cm)
Signed: Lower left: 'Juan Gris / 9-17'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 52.36
Label Text
Still Life (Bottle and Glass) depicts a tall narrow glass bottle, a chair rail, an open pack of cigarettes, and a wooden table or floor. A prominent characteristic of this composition is its mirrored forms. The abstract motifs framing the bottle, for example, include a brown line against a green ground at top right, while on the opposite diagonal, on the lower left, a green line sits atop a brown shape. There is, moreover, a mirroring between objects with light or shadow. The lip of the bottle extends to the very top-center edge of the composition and it appears to be clear, outlined in white. The corresponding reflected form, however, is solid white, as if light had more substance than the sheer glass that can disappear to the eye.

Still Life (Bottle and Glass) presents a complex visual puzzle but there is more to the painting's meaning than unraveling its formal elements. Gris painted this still life in the depths of the Great War. The composition has a dark palette and is claustrophobic, acknowledging the physical and psychic realities of loss and deprivation.

Mary E. Murray

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