Simultaneous with still lifes in which objects are reduced to signs or disappear are several pictures that are virtually portraits of objects. Léger is sometimes given credit, in certain works of 1924-25, for predicting "object-painting," that is, the isolation of an object against a planar composition. Yet Gris preceds him by a number of years. Though he had shown an early interest in manufactured objects, Gris reserved his greatest emotion and energy for tools of musicians. These possess heightened, idealized connotations for Gris and are worthy of his greates efforts. But his aim was synthetic. He wrote of wanting "to create new objects which cannot be compared with any objects in reality... My Violin, being a creation, need fear no comparison." He wanted a synthetic creation of the mind, not an imitation of nature. Among his highest achievements in this regard is The Violin, 1916. The composition, as usual based on overlapping color planes, harmonizes digital, vertical, and horizontal thrusts, transparencies, solids, and voids. Static and ghostly, isolated and hieratic, the instrument is the summation of Gris's emotions before this object. It is more than an object-emblem or an accumulation of aspects; it is, rather, a personal metaphor, like the guitar. Near the end of his career Gris would make explicit what was implicit in his art, that the musical instrument, as a tool of the musician, was an analogue to the implements of the painter. A majesty exists in this work that represents Gris at his finest.
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