The Leonard A. Lauder Collection has recently added a remarkable artwork by Spanish Cubist Juan Gris from 1915 entitled Still Life with Checked Tablecloth. The painting is done in oil and graphite on canvas and portrays a table set with a variety of items including grapes, red wine, beer, a newspaper and a guitar, which together form an image reminiscent of a bull’s head. This work was created immediately after Gris was profoundly affected by the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and marks the advent of Crystal Cubism, where objects are keenly observed to form facetted motifs.
At this time, Still Life with Checked Tablecloth opened up possibilities of what can be achieved through painting techniques combining various objects and depicted against space filled with light. As an extension of this exploration of depicting light in paintings, Gris also demonstrated his mastery in 1915 yet another artwork – Still Life Before An Open Window: Place Ravignan. This painting breaks away from traditional still life arrangements by presenting the objects against an open window instead implying that the surrounding environment impacts human life just as much as art does.