The Open Window
Oil on canvas
65 x 100 cm. (25 5/8 x 39 3/8 in.)
M. Meyer Collection, Zurich
From Mark Rosenthal, "Juan Gris":
"Living beside the sea at Bandol in 1921, Gris had diverse reactions to the setting. It was "sinister," "beautiful," and "sad." So moved was he that the theme of the open window dominated his production that year. In the first of these works, "The Open Window," Gris returned to the metaphoric conception of "Place Ravignan." That is, the interior and exterior spaces are distinct. Instead of a still life before a window, however, Gris discovered an archetypical subject for him, the musical instrument before nature. Though no text exists to make this combination a conventionally recognized allegory, the two principal components have long traditions in art history and in Gris's own evolution. We may, thus, speak of a private system of symbols in this case. Again, Gris's friendship with Matisse may have intervened, for until the latter's paintings of 1917, an instrument before a window did not exist in the history of the window motif in art, although it was hinted at in allegories of the senses. The interior, characterized by music, is evocative of the human world of art and intellect. The landscape has direct, visual, and sensuous qualities typical of anture. There is perhaps implicit a yearning for that natural simplicity. Potential for a merger is shown by the rhythmic repetition of curves in the guitar and mountains and in the cloud that begins to enter the room."