Breakfast Juan Gris Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

This mixed media piece from Juan Gris was completed in 1914 and its original French title was Le Petit déjeuner, or Breakfast.

The artist produced many still life paintings of breakfast tables, typically with fruit bowls, glasses, a delicate table cloth and also often a newspaper. This was repeated throughout his career as well as in that of other members of the Cubist movement. They spent time together working collaboratively and therefore would always have a certain element of crossover between their careers. Gris' style tended to be brighter than that of, say, Georges Braque, and his forms were also often simpler and more concise. In this particular painting, Breakfast features several cups and saucers, with a knife, small egg cup, coffee pot and newspaper (the artist actually signs it, just under the Le Journal title).

The table legs are ornately carved whilst the artist chooses to fill the background entirely in a shade of blue in order to avoid any distractions from the main elements of the composition. The table cloth itself is then presented separately to the table, in the usual approach of this art movement which would bend reality to put fractures of the scene at different angles. It is believed that the artist made use of a printed technique to produce the wooden surfaces in this painting as to do so by hand would have been difficult and particularly time consuming. There is even some genuine wallpaper inserted into the piece as Gris experimented with all manner of mixed media in this painting. In total, the techniques and tools that he used here included gouache, oil paints, plus crayon on printed paper on canvas with oil and crayon. This was a bold combination of techniques considering that it came in the very early part of the 20th century.

The angles of each item is carefully crafted, though deliberately they appear to be seen from different angles. The combination of different perspectives within the same scene can be fairly confusing to those unfamiliar with the art form of Cubism, and many prefer more realistic depictions - there is room for all tastes in the art world, now that in the present day there is an acceptance of the full variety of ideas and techniques. The techniques used here were to be termed Papier Collé and were the invention of Cubist colleague Georges Braque, around two years earlier. Gris was inspired by this new technique and would make use of it in several different works across the year of 1914. Breakfast is now owned by The Museum of Modern Art in New York.