Hailed as “the perfect painter” by avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein, Juan Gris developed his signature approach to Cubism beginning in 1911. Using classic café subject matter — such as the newspaper, seltzer bottle, and glass seen here — Gris made subtle adjustments to the conventions of picture making that render ordinary objects both familiar and newly intriguing. For example, in The Checkerboard (1915) and its bird’s-eye view of a tabletop, a cunning reorganization of pictorial space places objects that should have volume into a single compressed plane. With a nod to play, Gris shows us a fragmented checkerboard, an emblem of the strategy and gamesmanship at the center of his art.
In 2011, American artist Eve Fowler began A Spectacle and Nothing Strange, which quotes fragments of Gertrude Stein’s groundbreaking feminist prose works Tender Buttons (1914) and How to Write (1931) on twenty–one posters produced by the Colby Poster Printing Company.
Colby’s posters – known for their block-printed text over saccharine color gradients – were a common part of the Los Angeles landscape from the company’s founding, 60 years ago, until it closed, in 2012. Fowler’s posters were made using fonts and colors selected at random by the printer.
A Spectacle and Nothing Strange By Eve Fowler is on view at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC through September 28th, 2014.