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Violin and Candlestick, Paris, spring 1910, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Georges Braque[p] (13 May 1882 – 31 August 1963) was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art movement known as Cubism.

Contents

Youth

Georges Braque was born in Argenteuil, Val-d'Oise. He grew up in Le Havre and trained to be a house painter and decorator like his father and grandfather. However, he also studied serious painting in the evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts, in Le Havre, from about 1897 to 1899. In Paris, he apprenticed with a decorator and was awarded his certificate in 1902. The following year, he attended the Académie Humbert, also in Paris, and painted there until 1904. It was here that he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia.

Fauvism

His earliest works were impressionistic, but after seeing the work exhibited by the Fauves in 1905, Braque adopted a Fauvist style. The Fauves, a group that included Henri Matisse and André Derain among others, used brilliant colors and loose structures of forms to capture the most intense emotional response. Braque worked most closely with the artists Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who shared Braque's hometown of Le Havre, to develop a somewhat more subdued Fauvist style. In 1906, Braque traveled with Friesz to L'Estaque, to Antwerp, and home to Le Havre to paint.

In May 1907, he successfully exhibited works in the Fauve style in the Salon des Indépendants. The same year, Braque's style began a slow evolution as he came under the strong influence of Paul Cézanne, who died in 1906, and whose works were exhibited in Paris for the first time in a large-scale, museum-like retrospective in September 1907. The 1907 Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne greatly impacted the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took, leading to the advent of Cubism.

Cubism

Georges Braque, Woman with a Guitar, 1913. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. An example of Synthetic Cubism.

Braque's paintings of 1908–1913 began to reflect his new interest in geometry and simultaneous perspective. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects, appearing to question the most standard of artistic conventions. In his village scenes, for example, Braque frequently reduced an architectural structure to a geometric form approximating a cube, yet rendered its shading so that it looked both flat and three-dimensional by fragmenting the image. He showed this in the painting "House at L'estaque". In this way, Braque called attention to the very nature of visual illusion and artistic representation.

Fruitdish and Glass, papier collé and charcoal on paper, 1912.

Beginning in 1909, Braque began to work closely with Pablo Picasso, who had been developing a similar approach to painting. At the time Pablo Picasso was influenced by Gauguin, Cézanne, African tribal masks and Iberian sculpture, while Braque was mostly interested in developing Cézanne's idea's of multiple perspectives. “A comparison of the works of Picasso and Braque during 1908 reveals that the effect of his encounter with Picasso was more to accelerate and intensify Braque’s exploration of Cézanne’s ideas, rather than to divert his thinking in any essential way.”[1] The invention of Cubism was a joint effort between Picasso and Braque, then residents of Montmartre, Paris. These artists were the movement's main innovators. After meeting in October or November 1907,[2] Braque and Picasso, in particular, began working on the development of Cubism in 1908. Both artists produced paintings of monochromatic color and complex patterns of faceted form, now called Analytic Cubism.

A decisive moment in its development occurred during the summer of 1911[3], when Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso painted side by side in Céret, in the French Pyrenees, each artist producing paintings that are difficult—sometimes virtually impossible—to distinguish from those of the other. In 1912, they began to experiment with collage and papier collé.

Their productive collaboration continued and they worked closely together until the outbreak of World War I in 1914 when Braque enlisted in the French Army, leaving Paris to fight in the First World War.

French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first used the term Cubism, or "bizarre cubiques", in 1908 after seeing a picture by Braque. He described it as 'full of little cubes', after which the term quickly gained wide use although the two creators did not initially adopt it. Art historian Ernst Gombrich described cubism as "the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture - that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas."[4] The Cubist movement spread quickly throughout Paris and Europe.

Later work

Braque was severely wounded in the war, and when he resumed his artistic career in 1917 he moved away from the harsher abstraction of cubism. Working alone, he developed a more personal style, characterized by brilliant color and textured surfaces and—following his move to the Normandy seacoast—the reappearance of the human figure. He painted many still life subjects during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure. During his recovery he became a close friend of the cubist artist Juan Gris.

However, he nonetheless continued to work throughout the remainder of his life, producing a considerable number of distinguished paintings, graphics, and sculptures, all imbued with a pervasive contemplative quality. Braque, along with Matisse, is credited for introducing Pablo Picasso to Fernand Mourlot, and most of the lithographs and book illustrations he himself created in the 1940s and '50s were produced at the Mourlot Studios. He died on 31 August 1963, in Paris. He is buried in the church cemetery in Saint-Marguerite-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Braque's work is in most major museums throughout the world.

Style

Braque believed that an artist experienced beauty "… in terms of volume, of line, of mass, of weight, and through that beauty [he] interpret[s] [his] subjective impression...”[5] He described "objects shattered into fragments… [as] a way of getting closest to the object…Fragmentation helped me to establish space and movement in space”.[6] He adopted a monochromatic and neutral color palette in the belief that such a palette would work simultaneously with the form, instead of interfering with the viewer's conception of space; and would focus, rather than distract, the viewer from the subject matter of the painting.

Although Braque began his career painting landscapes, in 1908, he, alongside Picasso, discovered the advantages of painting still lifes instead. Braque explained that he, “… began to concentrate on still-lifes, because in the still-life you have a tactile, I might almost say a manual space… This answered to the hankering I have always had to touch things and not merely see them…In tactile space you measure the distance separating you from the object, whereas in visual space you measure the distance separating things from each other. This is what led to, long ago, from landscape to still-life”[7] A still-life was also more accessible, in relation to perspective, than landscape, and permitted the artist to see the multiple perspectives of the object. Braque's early interest in the still life reappeared in the 1930s.

During the period between the wars, Braque exhibited a looser and freer approach to Cubism, intensifying his color use and a looser rendering of objects. However, he still remained strongly committed to the cubist method of simultaneous perspective and fragmentation. In contrast to Picasso, who continuously reinvented his approach to painting, producing both representational and cubist images, and incorporating surrealist ideas into his work, Braque continued in the Cubist style, producing luminous, other-worldly still life and figure compositions. By the time of his death in 1963, he was regarded as one of the elder statesmen of the School of Paris, and of modern art.

Notes

[p] - The name Georges Braque is pronounced as "Zhorzh Brahk".[8]
  1. ^ Fry 1966, p. 71.
  2. ^ Picasso, P., Rubin, W. S., & Fluegel, J. (1980). Pablo Picasso, a retrospective. New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0870705288 p. 99,
  3. ^ Solomon_R._Guggenheim_Museum
  4. ^ Ernst Gombrich (1960) Art and Illusion, as quoted in Marshall McLuhan (1964) Understanding Media, p.12 [1]
  5. ^ Mullins 1968, p. 34.
  6. ^ Mullins 1968, p. 55.
  7. ^ Mullins 1968, p. 41.
  8. ^ "C.U.S.D. Art Masterpiece Manual", Mary Lynne Lasure, p.37, web: CUSD-artm-PDF.

References

  • Fry, Edward F. (1966). "Cubism 1907-1908: An Early Eyewitness Account". Art Bulletin 48: 71–73.
  • Mullins, Edwin (1968). The Art of Georges Braque. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  • Solomon_R._Guggenheim_Museum [2]
  • Picasso, P., Rubin, W. S., & Fluegel, J. (1980). Pablo Picasso, a retrospective. New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0870705288

External links

Related navpages:
  • {{Post-Impressionism}}   {{Avant-garde}}
  • {{Western art movements}}
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Georges Braque (1882-05-131963-08-31) was a French painter and sculptor. Along with Pablo Picasso he was one of the creators of Cubism.

Sourced

  • Thanks to the oval I have discovered the meaning of the horizontal and the vertical. (probably around 1910, fh)
    • Abstract Painting, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964, p. 39
  • At that time I was very friendly with Picasso. Our temperaments were very different, but we had the same idea. Later on it became clear, Picasso is Spanish and I am French; as everyone knows that mean a lot of differences, but during those days the differences did not count.. ..We were living in Montmarte, we used to meet every day, we used to talk.. ..In those years Picasso and I said things to each other that nobody will ever say again, that nobody could say any more.. ..It was rather like a pair of climbers roped together.
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 264 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • I felt dissatisfied with traditional perspective. Merely a mechanical process, this perspective never conveys things in full. It starts from one viewpoint and never gets away from it. But the viewpoint is quite unimportant. It is though someone were to draw profiles all his life, leading people to think that a man has only one eye.. ..When one got to thinking like that, everything changed, you cannot imagine how much!
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 264 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • What greatly attracted me – and it was the main line of advance of Cubism – was how to give material expression to this new space of which I had an inkling. So I began to paint chiefly still life’s, because in nature there is a tactile, I would almost say a manual space. I wrote about this moreover ‘When a still-life is no longer within reach, it ceases to be a still-life.. ..For me that expressed the desire I have always had to touch a thing, not just to look at it. It was that space that attracted me strongly, for that was the earliest Cubist painting – the quest for space.
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 264 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • When we were so friendly with Picasso, there was a time when we had difficulty in recognizing our own pictures. Later, when the revelation went deeper, differences appeared. Revelation is the one thing that cannot be taken from you. But before the revelation took place, there was still a marked intention of carrying painting in a direction that could re-establish the bond between Picasso and ourselves.
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 265 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • I considered that the painter’s personality should be kept out of things, and therefore pictures should be anonymous. It was I who decided that pictures should not be signed, and for a time Picasso did the same. I thought that from the moment someone else could do the same as myself, there was no difference between the pictures and they should not be signed. Afterwards I realized it was not so and began to sign my pictures again. Picasso had begun again anyhow. I realized that one cannot reveal oneself without mannerism, without some evident trace of one’s personality. But all the same one should not go too far in that direction..
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 265 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • If I have called Cubism a new order, it is without any revolutionary ideas or any reactionary ideas.. ..One cannot escape form one’s own epoch, however revolutionary one may be. I do not think my painting has ever been revolutionary. It was not directed against any kind of painting. I have never wanted to prove that I was right and someone else wrong.. ..If there is a touch of reaction, since life imposes that, it is minute. And then it is so difficult to judge a thing historically, separated from its environment: it is the relationship between a man and what he does that counts. That’s what good and touches us.
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 265 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • If we had never met Picasso, would Cubism have been what it is? I think not. The meeting with Picasso was a circumstance in our lives.
    • in conversation with Dora Vallier, 1954; as quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 265 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • You see, I have made a great discovery. I no longer believe in anything. Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence — what I can only describe as a sense of peace, which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.
    • The Power of Mystery (1957-12-01), a London Observer interview with John Richardson, as quoted in Braque: The Late Works, by John Golding (Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997), introduction (p. 10)

External links

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Simple English

File:P1010979van
Schilderij La Roche Guyon, 1909, an early cubist painting by Georges Braque.[1]

Georges Braque (Argenteuil, 13 May 1882 – Paris, 31 August 1963) was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, with Pablo Picasso, developed the art movement known as Cubism.

French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first used the term Cubism, or "bizarre cubiques", in 1908 after seeing a picture by Braque. He described it as 'full of little cubes', after which the term quickly gained wide use. Art historian Ernst Gombrich described cubism as "the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity, and to enforce one reading of the picture – that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas".[2] The Cubist movement spread quickly throughout Paris and Europe.

A major idea of Braque's was the fractured stringed instrument as a cubist model. This he painted a number of times with variations, and made sculptures with fractured violins, guitars, etc., inside transparent acrylic (perspex) blocks. Examples:

  • Violin and Candlestick, Paris, spring 1910, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
  • Woman with a Guitar, 1913. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

Notes

  1. Works of many modern French artists cannot be uploaded to Commons for copyright reasons, and so cannot be shown on this wiki. This is the only work by Braque on Commons.
  2. Ernst Gombrich 1960. Art and Illusion, as quoted in Marshall McLuhan (1964) Understanding Media, p.12 [1]

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