Pears and Grapes on a Table, 1913. Juan Gris. Oil on canvas. Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection.
The sense of movement and intrigue in this diagonally oriented painting is palpable: someone has quickly left the scene, leaving a shawl or cloak behind on the chair and a crumpled napkin and folded newspaper on the table. The blade of the black knife at far left, dangerously angled at the table’s edge, infuses the painting with menace, while the goblet at right seems to levitate upward at an angle. A fluted design on its base almost appears as the fingers of an invisible intruder. In contrast to Braque and Picasso, Gris reveled in garish colors that add narrative drama to his still lifes.