Still Life with a Guitar

Juan Gris Spanish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 910

Though sinister cast shadows were no novelty, Gris’s ingeniously detached silhouettes stand for the things themselves, as with the wineglass, pipe, and bottle in this garishly colored scene. Unlike full-bodied objects, these apparitions are flat and insubstantial, eluding our grasp. Meanwhile, the shadow dutifully attached to the guitar does not obey the laws of nature but changes in shape and direction, like a rogue twin. Gris’s mock deviousness was inspired by the murky criminal underworld of the pulp-fiction series Fantômas and its film versions (1913–14), which enthralled the Parisian avant-garde; the titular character often perpetrated his dastardly deeds like a stealth silhouette, clothed all in black.

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Still Life with a Guitar, Juan Gris (Spanish, Madrid 1887–1927 Boulogne-sur-Seine), Oil on canvas

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