Friday, March 23, 2012

On Google and Art Appreciation

I'm rather a fan of Google (although I suspect that one day they'll take over the world). Their search engine's clean, unfussy structure has always appealed to me, and they offer a wealth of free products which are very welcome in the Micawber household. Now that I have a gmail account, I like Google even more. (No spam, ever, and when you sign in you go straight to your inbox. So simple, so elegant.)

We interrupt this post to bring you a short grammatical digression on subject-verb agreement. What is the proper pronoun to use when referring to a publicly-traded corporation that is also a search engine and an entire platform of computer products? The plural "they" seems somehow appropriate, yet when I refer to "them" as Google, the singular verb form sounds better: Google provides, not Google provide. Oy. I wish the English language were as straightforward as Google's search engine.

Back to our regular programming: The creative folks at Google, in addition to having the simplest and best (in my opinion) search engine around, are also blessed with a sense of whimsy. They frequently change the logo on said search engine, replacing it with a doodle commemorating historical events of every kind: birthdays of famous and not-so-famous people; the onset of seasons or years; national days and holidays, and more. (Some of the doodles are interactive - on Lucille Ball's 100th birthday, a 50s-style TV set played famous clips from the "I Love Lucy" show. Les Paul's 96th birthday featured a playable guitar - and boy, did I waste a lot of time spend many enjoyable minutes on that one.)

Today's Google doodle is an homage to Juan Gris, an artist I'd never heard of before. Born in 1887, Gris was a Spanish painter/sculptor who spent most of his working life in France. Jonathan Jones, who writes an art blog for the Guardian, calls Gris the "unsung cubist" and one of "the three great masters of cubism" (click here to read the article).

The diverting doodle in question,
courtesy of Google

Although I'm not usually a lover of cubism, I wanted to see more of Gris's work - so I googled him (!) and found all kinds of fun, colourful images. Take a look at this happy painting:

"A Pot of Geraniums", Juan Gris, 1915
(public domain)

I love the woodgrain on the table and window frame; the textured wallpaper; the lifelike geranium leaves; and the cheerful polka-dot violet fabric (at least it looks like fabric to me). Woodgrain and wallpaper motifs appear in many of Gris's works; musical instruments are another frequent feature, as are various homely objects painted in cheerful colours. (His work seems permeated with cheerfulness; perhaps that's why it appeals to me.)

"Open Window with Hills", Juan Gris, 1923
(public domain)

"Fruit Bowl with Bottle", Juan Gris
(public domain)

Don't you think Gris would have made a fantastic quilter?

Many thanks to Google, and their sense of whimsy, for introducing me to this "joyous, entertaining" artist and his work. And long may the diverting doodles continue.

P.S. To see more of Juan Gris, visit the Juan Gris page.

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  1. I, too, am not a fan of cubism, although I did do a styled life drawing when in collage which had some aspects of it.

    I like the very last painting, more my thing, and the pointillism(?) aspect of it.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Google is the one. :-)

    I am a fan of cubism. But I've never linked it to quilting.

  3. Another Google fan here, and although I'm not too keen on the Cubists their influence on the artists who followed them has always fascinated me. Great post Sue :D

  4. I love Google too, don't know how we figured things out before it came along. Yes I could picture Gris as a quilter, in a quilting group with Picasso and Miro. Not much a fan of abstract art, but love the colors.

  5. Google is Great! :) As for the proper way to refer to 'them', who knows. The Goatmother worked with ESL students for a time. She came away from that wondering how anyone ever learns the English language. Good grief! So many idioms and exceptions to the rule, etc. etc. Oy is right. I only see things in a 'cubist' manner after having consumed too many Peanuts.

  6. I'm a Google devotee, too!! I've been on Gmail for a few years and love it, their most recent version of Picasa is fab and it all integrates so well!! And it's easy!! I'm a Huge Fan of Easy!! ;)

    Gris..I remember him from Art History!! Wow, it's been a while!! Picasso, of course gets, thought of first, but I always liked Gris' colors!! So much like Matisse one of my all time favorites!!! :) And I think you are right on with the quilting!! He may have missed his true calling!! ;)

  7. Hi, thanks so much for your comment on the crochet block. I would be very interested in the pattern and can be emailed at Are you going to use the pattern to make a blanket or cushion cover? Going to have a look around your blog now. Hope you have a good weekend x

  8. Love the great colors in his work. He really would have made great quilts.
    I can't tell you how often I say " I am going to google that"

  9. I guess I don't google enough. :) I totally missed Les Paul!!! I also missed Gris, and probably a lot of other stuff as well. I may just have to incorporate a daily visit just to make sure I'm not missing out on these little fun things!

    I think cubism probably would fit into quilting pretty well.


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