Juan Gris' Color Symmetries

James Mai
Proceedings of Bridges 2014: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2014)
Pages 197–204 Regular Papers


Juan Gris, Spanish-born artist and contemporary of Picasso, brought to cubism a new compositional rigor grounded in geometry and a new vibrancy of color. Art historians and critics have commented upon the strength and uniqueness of Gris' color, yet little has been written about either the specific colors or the possible color strategies employed by the artist. Examining the color organizations in the artist's paintings and correlating these with the artist's writings, the author describes the properties of limited-color palettes employed by Gris. The color-symmetry palette is defined as a special type of limited-color palette and is proposed as the primary color organization developed and employed by Gris between 1918 and 1924. Building on the author's prior analyses of Gris' compositions, the color-symmetry palettes are shown to correlate with and to reinforce Gris' compositional symmetries.