Modern and Contemporary Art
Man in a Café
Juan Gris (José Victoriano González Pérez), Spanish, 1887 - 1927
Oil on canvas
50 1/4 x 34 3/4 inches (127.6 x 88.3 cm)
Currently not on view
1950-134-94The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950
LabelJuan Gris was the only artist included in the 1912 Salon de la Section d'Or who actually used the ideal mathematical proportions of the Golden Section to construct his compositions, as seen in the complex system of grids and geometrical forms that make up this image of a café-terrace dandy. This modern man of taste, complete with top hat and black suit, rests one hand on a chair, while cradling a glass of absinthe in the other. The inclusion of the letters "PIC" and "AP" to the left of the man's shoulder can be understood as a reference to Picasso, the cocreator of Cubism, and Guillaume Apollinaire, the movement's fervent critical champion.
Robert J. Coady (1876-1921), New York, dealer ; sold to John Quinn (1870-1924), NYC, 1917; sale, John Quinn Collection, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 28 Oct. 1926, no. 57, illus. Pierre Faure, Paris, probably by 1930 and certainly by 1933 [from Léonce Rosenberg, from Quinn sale?] ; Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Los Angeles, through Marcel Duchamp as agent, 1938 ; gift to PMA, 1950.
1. See Judith K. Zilczer, "Robert J. Coady, Forgotten Spokesman for Avant-Garde Culture in America," American Art Review, vol. 2, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 1975), p. 81.
2. A painting by Gris entitled "Le buveur" was lent by Faure for exhibition at de Hauke & Co., NY, in April 1930. The dimensions listed in the de Hauke & Co. exhibition logbook, 50 1/4 x 34 3/4 in., match the PMA painting closely. Supporting this identification is the fact that C.J. Bulliet, The Significant Moderns and their Pictures (New York, 1936) illustrated the PMA painting, pl. 211, as "The Drinker", captioned C. de Hauke & Co. See Archives of American Art, Jacques Seligmann & Co. Records / Series 9.4 / Box 406 / f. 8 / De Hauke & Co., Inc. Records / Exhibition Files: Logbooks, 1930-1932 (copy in curatorial file); and Zürich, Kunsthaus, "Juan Gris," 1933, no. 35, lent by Pierre Faure, Paris (label of Faure originally on reverse). According to Douglas Cooper, Faure formed his large collection of 26 paintings by Gris between 1915 and 1927, buying from Léonce Rosenberg. Some 21 oil paintings owned by Faure were lent to the 1933 Zürich exhibition (all pre-1920). Cooper states that the entire collection was acquired by Kahnweiler's Galerie Simon in Paris in 1933 (Cooper, The Essential Cubism, 1983, pp. 25, 31). However, none of the Arensberg Gris paintings, all from the Faure collection, have Galerie Simon labels. This suggests that Duchamp acquired them directly from Faure (see note 4).
3. Provenance notes made for the Arensbergs by Marcel Duchamp, dated Sept. 8, 1951 (PMA, Arensberg Archives), state that this and the other four paintings by Gris in the Arensberg collection were acquired as a group from a "private collection" (Faure's?).