Harlequin with a Guitar

Juan Gris Spanish

Not on view

Like many European artists before them, Cubists often depicted Harlequin, a stock character in the Italian commedia dell’arte, a form of masked theater dating back to the sixteenth century. Easily recognized in his checkered costume, Harlequin is a trickster with a tendency to act on whim and passion. For this reason, several modern artists adopted the character as an alter ego. Gris was particularly fond of the subject; he portrayed Harlequin in approximately forty works made between 1917 and 1925. In this painting, caricature softens the Cubist fracturing of the figure, while bands of light illuminate Harlequin’s costume.

Harlequin with a Guitar, Juan Gris (Spanish, Madrid 1887–1927 Boulogne-sur-Seine), Oil on panel

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