French Painter, Collagist, Draftsman, Printmaker, and Sculptor
Summary of Georges Braque
Georges Braque was at the forefront of the revolutionary art movement of Cubism. Braque's work throughout his life focused on still lifes and means of viewing objects from various perspectives through color, line, and texture. While his collaboration with Pablo Picasso and their Cubist works are best known, Braque had a long painting career that continued well beyond that period.
- Though Braque started out as a member of the Fauves, he began developing a Cubist style after meeting Pablo Picasso. While their paintings shared many similarities in palette, style and subject matter, Braque stated that unlike Picasso, his work was "devoid of iconological commentary," and was concerned purely with pictorial space and composition.
- Braque sought balance and harmony in his compositions, especially through papier collés, a pasted paper collage technique that Picasso and Braque invented in 1912. Braque, however, took collage one-step further by gluing cut-up advertisements into his canvases. This foreshadowed modern art movements concerned with critiquing media, such as Pop art.
- Braque stenciled letters onto paintings, blended pigments with sand, and copied wood grain and marble to achieve great levels of dimension in his paintings. His depictions of still lifes are so abstract that they border on becoming patterns that express an essence of the objects viewed rather than direct representations.
Biography of Georges Braque
Although Braque and Picasso were very close for a period, the two art giants were almost polar opposites. Braque stayed married with one woman, fought in World War I, and was reserved and tall.
Important Art by Georges Braque
Braque's paintings made over the summer of 1908 at l'Estaque are considered the first Cubist paintings. After being rejected by the Salon d'Automne, they were fortunately exhibited that fall at Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler's Paris gallery. These simple landscape paintings showed Braque's determination to break imagery into dissected parts. The brown and green palette here also predicts a palette that Braque employed in many paintings to come.
Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on the Mantlepiece is typical of Braque's subject matter, yet is unique as an early example of collage. In this painting, he stenciled the word "valse" to mean "waltz," in continuation with his interest in musical themes and instruments. "RHU" are first three letters for the French word for rum. Again using an exploded perspective, the viewer barely perceives a scroll in the lower right corner, which could allude to a human head, a violin or cello, or the mantelpiece in the title.
Braque depicted both bottles and fishes throughout his entire painting career, and these objects stand as markers to differentiate his various styles. Bottle and Fishes is an excellent example of Braque's foray into Analytic Cubism, while he worked closely with Picasso. This painting has the restricted characteristic earth tone palette rendering barely perceptible objects as they disintegrate along a horizontal plane. While there are some diagonal lines, Braque's early paintings tended to work vertically or horizontally.
Influences and Connections
Useful Resources on Georges Braque
- Georges Braque, A LifeOur PickBy Alex Danchev
- Picasso and Braque Pioneering CubismBy William Rubin
- Braque (Modern Masters Series)By Karen Wilkin
- Braque CameoOur PickBy Jose Maria Faerna
- Georges Braque: Illustrated NotebooksBy Georges Braque
- Georges Braque: He Changed Western Painting For EverBy Richard Dorment / The Telegraph / September 23, 2013
- The Other Father of CubismOur PickBy Roberta Smith / The New York Times / October 13, 2011
- After Him, Who?By Alex Danchev / The Guardian / May 6, 2005
- From Braque's Later Years, The Products of Slow TimeBy John Russell / The New York Times / February 16, 1997
- Picasso and Braque Go to the MoviesBy Martin Scorsese