Fantomas (Pipe and Newspaper) (1915) by Juan Gris

Fantomas (Pipe and Newspaper) - Juan Gris - 1915

Artwork Information

TitleFantomas (Pipe and Newspaper)
ArtistJuan Gris
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions59.8 x 73.3 cm. (23 1/2 x 28 7/8 in.)
Art MovementSynthetic Cubism
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Fantomas (Pipe and Newspaper)

The artwork “Fantomas (Pipe and Newspaper)” by Juan Gris, created in 1915, is an exemplar of Synthetic Cubism, a movement known for its geometric simplification and fragmented objects. This oil on canvas work, measuring 59.8 x 73.3 cm, is a still life that resides in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The genre is imbued with a complexity that defies the traditional passive observation of inanimate objects, instead offering a dynamic interaction with the viewer.

In the artwork, the artist intricately pieces together various elements to form a complex, layered composition that defies conventional perspective. The visible objects include a pipe, newspapers, and what seems like a glass, fragmented and reassembled in a way that they interlock and overlap on multiple planes. Sharp geometric shapes, characteristic of the Cubist style, dominate the scene, creating rhythm and an almost tangible tension between the forms.

Colors range from earthy browns and beige tones, suggestive of the wooden surface and background, to cooler blues and greens, likely representing the newspapers and the pipe. These are contrasted with warmer yellows, which seem to add a vibrant life to the composition. Text from the newspapers emerges in legible fragments, like “FANTOMAS” and “LE JOURNAL,” which not only provide visual interest but also context for the time in which the work was created. The text also ties the artwork to contemporary culture, as Fantomas refers to a popular fictional character of the era, a master of disguise and symbol of the modern, urban experience.

The still life components of the artwork are expertly dissected and reorganized, challenging the viewer’s perception and inviting a deeper engagement with the painted surface. Overall, Juan Gris’ contribution to Synthetic Cubism is evident in this work, showcasing his ability to synthesize reality and abstraction in harmony.

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