José Victoriano González-Pérez was born on March 23, 1887 in Madrid (Spain). Gris studied mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid from 1902 to 1904. During this time he contributed drawings to local periodicals. From 1904 to 1905 he studied painting with the academic artist José Maria Carbonero.
In 1906 he moved to Paris and became friends with Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Amedeo Modigliani.
While he submitted humorous illustrations to journals such as 'L'assiette au beurre', 'Le Charivari', and 'Le Cri de Paris', Gris began to paint seriously in 1910. By 1912 he had developed a personal Cubist style. Gris followed the lead of another friend, Pablo Picasso. His portrait of Picasso in 1912 is a significant early cubist painting.
At first he painted in the analytic style of cubism but after 1915, he began his conversion to synthetic cubism of which he became a steadfast interpreter, with recognizable use of papier collé. Unlike Braque and Picasso whose works were monochromatic, Gris concentrated on painting with bright colors.
In 1922 Juan Gris first designed ballet sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev.
Juan Gris died on May 11, 1927 in Boulogne-sur-Seine.