Jacques Lipchitz saw Cubism as a form of emancipation from all preceding artistic movements. Juan Gris believed that Cubism was not a manner but a state of mind, and that it was thus inescapably connected to every manifestation of contemporary thought. The protagonists of Cubism were well aware of the implications of their experience, and our present-day artistic consciousness unreservedly recognises Cubism as a cornerstone of modern art.
Even so, the various views and narratives of the cubist experience are sometimes at odds with each other. We speak of “cubism” in singular but its creative space was plural. It would be more accurate to talk of “cubisms”. One particular, and quite possibly dominant, view is inclined to take a restrictive approach to the artists, the times, and the settings of the cubist experience. However, there is another vision – one that is necessary right now –, which tends to be broad and complex, and which sees Cubism as a process that unfolded over time, with diverse inputs and numerous protagonists.
The union of the Telefónica Cubist Collection and the cubist holdings at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia supports this plural conception of the cubist experience. The union of the two collections also brings the work of Juan Gris to the fore in both the exhibition and the narrative. Thinking about the cubist experience inevitably means thinking about the pervasiveness of the work of Picasso and Braque. But at this point in time, it is not only legitimate and possible to reconsider the cubist experience from the perspective of the formulations of Juan Gris, it is also desirable, because it means recognising the complexity of the true nature of Cubism.