Harlequin (1917) by Juan Gris

Harlequin - Juan Gris - 1917

Artwork Information

ArtistJuan Gris
Art MovementCubism
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, US

About Harlequin

The artwork “Harlequin,” created by Juan Gris in 1917, is a sculpture executed in plaster. As an exemplar of the Cubism movement, this piece is currently housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The sculpture, mirroring the aesthetics of Cubism, is fragmented into geometric forms that simultaneously reveal different perspectives of the subject.

Upon examination of the artwork, one can discern the characteristic fragmented geometry that Cubism is known for. The figure is abstracted into block-like shapes and planes, which appear to be meticulously interlocked to suggest form and volume. The sculpture’s color palette is restrained, utilising shades that seem to mimic the natural tones of the plaster medium. Despite the abstraction, there is an implicit suggestion of the Harlequin character – traditionally associated with the commedia dell’arte, featuring a playful and complex persona often recognized by a diamond-patterned costume.

The Harlequin is presented in a stylized, reduced form, foregoing the detailed representation in favor of an exploration of spatial relationships and structural composition. The artwork is a study in the reduction of natural forms to their essential, abstract geometries, a hallmark of Cubist philosophy which aims to present multiple viewpoints and break down the conventional representation of three-dimensional objects.

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