Georges Braque

Georges Braque

Overview
Georges Braque[p]  was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 who, along with Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, developed the art style known as Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

.

Georges Braque was born on 13 May 1882, in Argenteuil
Argenteuil
Argenteuil is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris. Argenteuil is a sub-prefecture of the Val-d'Oise department, the seat of the arrondissement of Argenteuil....

, Val-d'Oise
Val-d'Oise
Val-d'Oise is a French department, created in 1968 after the split of the Seine-et-Oise department and located in the Île-de-France region. In local slang, it is known as "quatre-vingt quinze" or "neuf cinq"...

. He grew up in Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 and trained to be a house painter and decorator like his father and grandfather. However, he also studied artistic painting during evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts refers to a number of influential art schools in France. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, in the 6th arrondissement. The school has a history spanning more than 350 years,...

, in Le Havre, from about 1897 to 1899.
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Quotations

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

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)
Encyclopedia
Georges Braque[p]  was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 who, along with Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, developed the art style known as Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

.

Early Life


Georges Braque was born on 13 May 1882, in Argenteuil
Argenteuil
Argenteuil is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris. Argenteuil is a sub-prefecture of the Val-d'Oise department, the seat of the arrondissement of Argenteuil....

, Val-d'Oise
Val-d'Oise
Val-d'Oise is a French department, created in 1968 after the split of the Seine-et-Oise department and located in the Île-de-France region. In local slang, it is known as "quatre-vingt quinze" or "neuf cinq"...

. He grew up in Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

 and trained to be a house painter and decorator like his father and grandfather. However, he also studied artistic painting during evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts refers to a number of influential art schools in France. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, in the 6th arrondissement. The school has a history spanning more than 350 years,...

, in Le Havre, from about 1897 to 1899. In Paris, he apprenticed with a decorator and was awarded his certificate in 1902. The next year, he attended the Académie Humbert, also in Paris, and painted there until 1904. It was here that he met Marie Laurencin
Marie Laurencin
Marie Laurencin was a French painter and printmaker. -Biography:Laurencin was born in Paris, where she was raised by her mother and lived much of her life. At 18, she studied porcelain painting in Sèvres...

 and Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia was a French painter, poet, and typographist, associated with both the Dada and Surrealist art movements.- Early life :...

.

Fauvism


His earliest works were impressionistic
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

, but after seeing the work exhibited by the artistic group known as the "Fauves
Fauvism
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves , a short-lived and loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism...

" (Beasts) in 1905, Braque adopted a Fauvist style. The Fauves, a group that included Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter...

 and André Derain
André Derain
André Derain was a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse.-Early years:...

 among others, used brilliant colors to represent emotional response. Braque worked most closely with the artists Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy[p] was a French Fauvist painter. He developed a colorful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs of ceramics and textiles, as well as decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events...

 and Othon Friesz
Othon Friesz
Achille-Émile Othon Friesz who later called himself just Othon Friesz , a native of Le Havre, was a French artist of the Fauvist movement....

, 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
L'Estaque
L'Estaque is a small French fishing village just west of Marseille. Administratively, it belongs to the commune of Marseille.Many artists of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods visited or resided there or in the surrounding area. Many of them painted scenes of the village, the road...

, to Antwerp, and home to Le Havre to paint.

In May 1907, he successfully exhibited works of the Fauve style in the Salon des Indépendants. The same year, Braque's style began a slow evolution as he became influenced by Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

, who had 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
Salon d'Automne
In 1903, the first Salon d'Automne was organized by Georges Rouault, André Derain, Henri Matisse, Angele Delasalle and Albert Marquet as a reaction to the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon...

 greatly affected the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 artists of Paris, resulting in the advent of Cubism.

Cubism


Braque's paintings of 1908–1913 reflected his new interest in geometry and simultaneous perspective
Perspective (graphical)
Perspective in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface , of an image as it is seen by the eye...

. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects, seeming 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".


Beginning during 1909, Braque began to work closely with Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, who had been developing a similar style of painting. At the time Pablo Picasso was influenced by Gauguin, Cézanne, African tribal masks
African tribal masks
Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Subsaharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: for example, masks...

 and Iberian sculpture
Iberian sculpture
Iberian sculpture, a subset of Iberian art, describes the various sculptural styles developed by the Iberians from the Bronze age up to the Roman conquest...

, while Braque was interested mainly in developing Cézanne's ideas 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.” Braque’s essential subject is the ordinary objects he has known practically forever. Picasso celebrates animation, while Braque celebrates contemplation. Thus, the invention of Cubism was a joint effort between Picasso and Braque, then residents of Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre is a hill which is 130 metres high, giving its name to the surrounding district, in the north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a part of the Right Bank. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district...

, Paris. These artists were the style's main innovators. After meeting in October or November 1907, 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 termed Analytic Cubism.

A decisive time of its development occurred during the summer of 1911, when Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso painted side by side in Céret
Céret
Céret is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. It is the capital of Vallespir historical Catalan comarca.-Geography:...

 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
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

 and papier collé
Papier collé
Papier collé is a painting technique and type of collage. With papier collé the artist pastes pieces of flat material into a painting in much in the same way as a collage, except the shape of the pasted pieces are objects themselves...

.


French art critic Louis Vauxcelles
Louis Vauxcelles
Louis Vauxcelles was an influential French art critic. He is credited with coining the terms Fauvism , and Cubism ....

 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 adopt it initially. Art historian Ernst Gombrich
Ernst Gombrich
Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, OM, CBE was an Austrian-born art historian who became naturalized British citizen in 1947. He spent most of his working life in the United Kingdom...

 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." The Cubist
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 style spread quickly throughout Paris and then Europe.
The two artists' productive collaboration continued and they worked closely together until the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in 1914, when Braque enlisted with the French Army. In May 1915, Braque received a severe head injury in battle at Carency
Carency
Carency is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A farming village located 8 miles northwest of Arras on the D58 road...

 and suffered temporary blindness. He was trepanned, and required a long period of recuperation.

Later work


Braque resumed painting in late 1916. Working alone, he began to moderate the harsh abstraction of cubism. He developed a more personal style characterized by brilliant color, textured surfaces, and—after his relocation to the Normandy seacoast—the reappearance of the human figure. He painted many still life
Still life
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made...

 subjects during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure. One example of this is his 1943 work, Blue Guitar, which hangs in the Allen Memorial Art Museum
Allen Memorial Art Museum
The Allen Memorial Art Museum is located in Oberlin, Ohio and is run by Oberlin College. Founded in 1917, its collection is one of the finest of any college or university museum in the United States, consistently ranking among those of Harvard and Yale...

. During his recovery he became a close friend of the cubist artist Juan Gris
Juan Gris
José Victoriano González-Pérez , better known as Juan Gris, was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked in France most of his life...

.

He continued to work during the remainder of his life, producing a considerable number of paintings, graphics, and sculptures. Braque, along with Matisse, is credited for introducing Pablo Picasso to Fernand Mourlot
Fernand Mourlot
Fernand Mourlot , son of Jules Mourlot, was the director of Mourlot Studios and founder of Editions Mourlot.- Early life and career :...

, and most of the lithographs
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

 and book illustrations he himself created during the 1940s and '50s were produced at the Mourlot Studios
Mourlot Studios
Mourlot Studios was a commercial print shop founded in 1852 by the Mourlot family and located in Paris, France. It was also known as Imprimerie Mourlot, Mourlot Freres and Atelier Mourlot. Founded by Francois Mourlot, it started off producing wallpaper...

. 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...” 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”. He adopted a monochromatic
Monochrome
Monochrome describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or shades of one color. A monochromatic object or image has colors in shades of limited colors or hues. Images using only shades of grey are called grayscale or black-and-white...

 and neutral color palette in the belief that such a palette would emphasize the subject matter.

Although Braque began his career painting landscapes, during 1908 he, alongside Picasso, discovered the advantages of painting still life
Still life
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made...

s 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 me, long ago, from landscape to still-life” A still life was also more accessible, in relation to perspective
Perspective (visual)
Perspective, in context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes; or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects...

, than landscape, and permitted the artist to see the multiple perspectives of the object. Braque's early interest in still lifes revived during the 1930s.

During the period between the wars, Braque exhibited a freer style of Cubism, intensifying his color use and a looser rendering of objects. However, he still remained committed to the cubist method of simultaneous perspective and fragmentation. In contrast to Picasso, who continuously reinvented his style of painting, producing both representational and cubist images, and incorporating surrealist
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 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
School of Paris
School of Paris refers to two distinct groups of artists — a group of medieval manuscript illuminators, and a group of non-French artists working in Paris before World War I...

, and of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

.

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