Our Artists

Georges Braque

A 20th century French Painter, Georges Braque was one of the forerunners of the artistic avant-garde movement by introducing cubism along with Picasso.  Although his art was tormented, it was never violent, but sober and elegant.  Throughout his career, Braque never stopped innovating and taking his searches further.  His remarkable work and human qualities made him one of the most influential painters of his era.

Biography

Braque’s early days

Georges Braque was born on 13th May 1882 in Argenteuil, the birthplace of Impressionism.  He studied at the ‘Ecole des Beaux-Arts’ in Le Havre from 1897 and it was here that he met his older colleagues, Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz. Following in his father’s footsteps, he obtained his Painter’s and Decorator’s diploma in Paris in 1901.  However, he was passionate about art and, the following year, he joined the Humbert Academy.
His first works showed the influence of Impressionism but he soon drew away from this when he discovered Matisse and Derain; after an artistic collaboration with his friend Friesz, his style became distinctly Fauvist (Memories of Anvers).
His paintings, with their pure colours and geometric patterns, were exhibited at the ‘Salon des Indépendants’ in 1906 and were all sold.  This success encouraged him to carry on but by moving away from Fauvism: he aspired to a more rigorous, less anxious style of art.  His meeting with Pablo Picasso and the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was a revelation for him.

Georges braque, Cubist

Braque painted his famous painting Large Nude in 1908, launching a new style. The critic Louis Vauxcelles compared his painting to an assembly of “cubes”: Cubism was born, then turned into a theory by Braque and Picasso from 1909 to 1912. The principles of Cubism totally changed the perception of art, because it was now no longer a question of imitating what was real but of de-constructing reality in order to recompose it.  The two founders of Cubism worked closely together and their works revealed an obvious reciprocal influence.
Georges Braque gradually gave up painting landscapes to devote himself to still life (Still life with instruments, 1908, Violin and Artist’s Palette, 1909-1910), which largely contributed to his reputation.  His paintings remained figurative even though his work resembled that of a geometrician in the disposition of forms. 

Back to reality

Judging his painting to be too close to abstract art, Braque decided to get back to reality using innovative artistic techniques: in his famous painting Le Portugais (1911), he painted the letters and numbers using a stencil; in Still life with grapes in1912, he introduced natural components such as sand and sawdust and completed his first paper collage with Fruit bowl and glass, which was made of pieces of painted paper, newspapers and posters stuck to the canvas. 
During a three year convalescence following a war wound, Braque was unable to paint and so moved away from his friend Picasso.  He evolved towards a Cubism that was more colourful and closer to reality: “I want to be in harmony with nature, which is much more than copying it.”. He completed several series during this period: The gueridons (1918), The chimneys and Les Canéphores (1922-1927), The bathers, The beaches and The cliffs from 1930.

Braque’s creative genius

Georges Braque acquired an indisputable technical maturity that allowed him to develop his art, notably by completing several decorative still lives while working on new artistic procedures:  The pink tablecloth (1933), The mauve tablecloth (1936).  “You have to be content to discover and not try to explain”. The artist stayed in Paris during the Second World War, a particularly fertile period for him: he painted various masterpieces such as The red gueridon (1942), The black fish (1942) and The Living Room (1944).
Braque was awarded the Venice Biennial International Grand Prix in 1948, a reward for many years of work, but he was also much appreciated as a personality. From 1949 onwards he completed the series The Workshops, eight paintings that went back over his unusual pictorial career. He introduced the theme of birds that was so dear to him (Birds on a blue background). He also completed several decorative works, notably an order for The Henri II room in the Louvre: he thus became the first living artist to be exhibited in the Louvre, before dying in Paris in 1963, unanimously recognised as one of the great artists of the 20th Century.   

Works

Le Grand Nu, (Large Nude) 1908
L'Estaque, 1908
Fox, (Fox) 1911
Guitare, (Guitar) 1913
Baigneuse, (Bather) 1925
Guitare et pichet, (Guitar and jug) 1927
La Mandoline, (The mandolin) 1945
L'Oiseau, (The bird) 1949
A tire d'aile, (Flying off) 1961

Useful links

The Museum of Modern Art, Paris houses several of Georges Braque’s works, including Les poissons noirs (The black fish), Le Guéridon rouge (The red stool), Le Salon (The living room), Le Port de l'Estaque (Estaque Port),...

In Memory of Georges Braque: A government tribute by André Malraux, 3rd September 1963.

Identity

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 13/05/1882
Died on : 31/08/1963
Profile : Engraver, Painter, Sculptor
Artistic current(s) : Cubism, Fauvism
Theme(s) covered : Still life, Landscapes - Nature, Portraits - Characters

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