He was born in Madrid, Spain and studied mechanical drawing at the Escuela de Artes y Manufacturas in Madrid from 1902 to 1904, during which 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 would become friend of Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and in 1915 was painted by his friend, Amedeo Modigliani. In Paris, Gris would follow the lead of another friend and fellow countryman, Pablo Picasso. His portrait of Picasso from 1912 is one of the most important early cubist paintings by a painter other than Picasso or Georges Braque.
Although he submitted humorous illustrations to journals such as ''Lassiette 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. He entered his greatest period in the years between 1914-1918. At first he was under influence of analytic cubism but after 1915, he began his conversion to synthetic cubism of which he became a steadfast interpreter.
In 1922 the painter first designed ballet sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev.
Gris articulated most of his aesthetic theories during 1924 and 1925. He delivered his definitive lecture, Des possibilités de la peinture, at the Sorbonne in 1924. Major Gris exhibitions took place at the Galerie Simon in Paris and the Galerie Flechtheim in Berlin in 1923 and at the Galerie Flechtheim in Düsseldorf in 1925. He died in Boulogne-sur-Seine.
Although he regarded Picasso as a teacher, Gertrude Stein acknowledged that Gris "was the one person that Picasso would have willingly wiped off the map."
Recently a Juan Gris painting sold for more than US$8.4 million. tura