Georges Braque Life and Art Periods

GEORGES BRAQUE SYNOPSIS

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 beyond Cubism. Braque was also often dedicated to quiet periods in his studio rather than to being a personality in the art world.

GEORGES BRAQUE KEY IDEAS

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 colles, 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.
comment to editor

GEORGES BRAQUE BIOGRAPHY

Childhood

Georges Braque was guided from a young age toward creative painting techniques. His father managed a decorative painting business and Braque's interest in texture and tactility perhaps came from working with him as a decorator. In 1899, at age seventeen, Braque moved from Argenteuil into Paris, accompanied by friends Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy.

MORE

Early Training

Braque's earliest paintings were made in the Fauvist style. From 1902-1905, after giving up work as a decorator to pursue painting full-time he pursued Fauvist ideas and coordinated with Henri Matisse. He contributed his Fauvist colorful paintings to his first exhibition at the Salon des Independants in 1906. However, he was extremely affected by a visit to Pablo Picasso's studio in 1907, to see Picasso's breakthrough work - Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. After this encounter, the two artists forged an intimate friendship and artistic camaraderie. "We would get together every single day," Braque said, "to discuss and assay the ideas that were forming, as well as to compare our respective works". The drastic change in Braque's painting style can be directly attributed to Picasso. Once he understood Picasso's goals, Braque aimed to strengthen "the constructive elements in his works while foregoing the expressive excesses of Fauvism". His landscape paintings in which scenes were distilled into basic shapes and colors inspired French art critic, Louis Vauxcelles, to coin the term Cubism by describing Braque's work as "bizarreries cubiques."

Mature Period

Georges Braque Biography

Braque and Picasso worked in synchronicity until Braque's return from war in 1914. When Picasso began to paint figuratively, Braque felt his friend had betrayed their Cubist systems and rules, and continued on his own. However, he continued to remain influenced by Picasso's work, especially in regards to papier colles, a collage technique pioneered by both artists using only pasted paper. His collages featured geometric shapes interrupted by musical instruments, grapes, or furniture. These were so three-dimensional that they are considered important in the development of Cubist sculpture. By 1918, Braque felt he had sufficiently explored papier colles, and returned to still life painting.

Viewers noted a more limited palette at Braque's first post-war solo show in 1919. Yet he steadfastly adhered to Cubist rules about depicting objects from multi-faceted perspectives in geometrically patterned ways. In this, he continued as a true Analytical Cubist longer than did Picasso, whose style, subject matter and palettes changed continuously. Braque was most interested in showing how objects look when viewed over time in different temporal spaces and pictorial planes. As a result of his dedication to depicting space in various ways, he naturally gravitated towards designing sets and costumes for theater and ballet performances, doing this throughout the 1920s.

Late Years and Death

In 1929, Braque took up landscape painting once again, using new, bright colors influenced by Picasso and Matisse. Then in the 1930s, Braque began to portray Greek heroes and deities, though he claimed the subjects were stripped of their symbolism and ought to be viewed through a purely formal lens. He called these works exercises in calligraphy, possibly because they were not strictly about figures but more about sheer line and shape. In the latter half of the 1930s, Braque embarked on painting his Vanitas series, through which he existentially considered death and suffering. Growing increasingly obsessed with the physicality of his paintings, he explored the ways in which brushstrokes and paint qualities could enhance his subject matter.

The objects used in his still lifes were highly personal to Braque, however, he did not reveal these meanings. Skulls, for example, were objects he painted repeatedly at the onset of World War II. In 1944, when World War II ended, Braque began to embrace lighter subjects like flowers, billiard tables, and garden chairs. His final series of eight canvases made from 1948-1955, each titled Atelier, or Studio, depicted imagery that represented the artist's inner thoughts on each object rather than clues to the outside world. At the very end of his life, Braque painted birds repeatedly, as the perfect symbol of his obsession with space and movement.

GEORGES BRAQUE LEGACY

Georges Braque Photo

Braque is remembered as a progenitor of Cubism, who was both rational and sensuous in his still life paintings. He was a classic painter in this sense, and has influenced the likes of Jim Dine and Wayne Thiebaud, who focused on still life painting. Braque is also a celebrated colorist, and can be traced through contemporary art to those painters who work with color in similar ways. Perhaps Braque is most remembered for his use of collage, as many contemporary artists, from sculptors like Jessica Stockholder to painters like Mark Bradford, apply paper to their works as a means to comment on society and its products.

Original content written by The Art Story Contributors
comment to editor

GEORGES BRAQUE QUOTES

"To work from nature is to improvise."

"One must not imitate what one wants to create."

"One must beware of an all-purpose formula that will serve to interpret the other arts as well as reality, and that instead of creating will only produce a style, or rather a stylization."

Georges Braque

Georges Braque Influences

Interactive chart with Georges Braque's main influencers, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.

CLICK TO EXPAND

LEAVE A COMMENT OR SUGGESTION BELOW

We will address your comment shortly.
Error occured while saving commment. Please, try later.
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was an influential French Post-Impressionist painter whose depictions of the natural world, based on internal geometric planes, paved the way for Cubism and later modern art movements.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Paul Cézanne
Camille Corot
Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a nineteenth-century French painter and printmaker. Best known for his landscape paintings rendered in a Neo-Classical tradition, Corot's practice of painting outside in the open air was highly influential to many of the French Impressionists.

Modern Art Information Camille Corot
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French painter and sculptor who helped forge modern art. From his early Fauvist works to his late cutouts, he emphasized expansive fields of color, the expressive potential of gesture, and the sensuality inherent in art-making.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Henri Matisse
Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet was a French painter and chief figure in the Realist movement of the mid-nineteenth century. His paintings often contained an emotional bleakness, and were praised for their precision and use of light. Along with Delacroix, Courbet was a key influence on the Impressionists.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Gustave Courbet
Edouard Vuillard
Edouard Vuillard
Edouard Vuillard was a French Post-Impressionist painter especially known for his interiors and domestic scenes. A member of the Les Nabis group, his works are characterized by rough areas of color, pointillist daubs and dots, and decorative patterns that spread out across background fabrics and wallpaper.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Edouard Vuillard
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Picasso dominated European painting in the first half of the last century, and remains perhaps the century's most important, prolifically inventive, and versatile artist. Alongside Georges Braque, he pioneered Cubism. He also made significant contributions to Surrealist painting and media such as collage, welded sculpture, and ceramics.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Pablo Picasso
Juan Gris
Juan Gris
Juan Gris was a Spanish painter and sculptor, and one of the few pioneers of Cubism. Along with Matisse, Léger, Braque and Picasso, Gris was among the elite visual artists working in early-twentieth-century France.

Modern Art Information Juan Gris
André Derain
André Derain
André Derain, co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse, was a French artist whose paintings exhibit the writhing energetic lines and bright colors characteristic of the movement.

Modern Art Information André Derain
Henri Laurens
Henri Laurens
Henri Laurens was a twentieth-century French sculptor, engraver and illustrator. After meeting Cubist artists Picasso, Braque, Léger and Gris in Montparnasse, Laurens began making Cubism-inspired sculpture, which were among his most famous works.

Modern Art Information Henri Laurens
Erik Satie
Erik Satie
Erik Satie was a nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century French composer, writer, pianist and avant-garde theorist. Satie's most well known piece was the 1888 Gymnopedies, a series a three piano compositions in 3/4 time that is considered an important precursor to ambient sound and minimalist composition.

Modern Art Information Erik Satie
Impressionism
Impressionism
A movement in painting that first surfaced in France in the 1860s, it sought new ways to describe effects of light and movement, often using rich colors. The Impressionists were drawn to modern life and often painted the city, but they also captured landscapes and scenes of middle-class leisure-taking in the suburbs.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism refers to a number of styles that emerged in reaction to Impressionism in the 1880s. The movement encompassed Symbolism and Neo-Impressionism before ceding to Fauvism around 1905. Its artists turned away from effects of light and atmosphere to explore new avenues such as color theory and personal feeling, often using colors and forms in intense and expressive ways.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Post-Impressionism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism was an early twentieth-century art movement founded by Henri Matisse and André Derain. Labeled as "wild beasts", Fauve artists favored vibrant colors and winding gestural strokes across the canvas.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Fauvism
African Art
African Art
Beginning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, traditional African art, often seen through a primitivizing eye, began to exert a strong influence on modern Western artists. Artists were influenced by the emphasis on ritual and spiritualism, and the stylistic conventions of flattened planes and mask-like faces.

Modern Art Information African Art
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism is a broad term for a host of movements in early twentieth-century Germany, from Die Brücke (1905) and Der Blaue Reiter (1911) to the early Neue Sachlichkeit painters in the 1920s and '30s. Many German Expressionists used vivid colors and abstracted forms to create spiritually or psychologically intense works, while others focused on depictions of war, alienation, and the modern city.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Expressionism
Marsden Hartley
Marsden Hartley
Marsden Hartley was an American painter and poet. After studying at the Art Students League of New York, Hartley became a member of Alfred Stieglitz's 291 Gallery Group, and was an important Modernist in the early-twentieth-century years of New York.

Modern Art Information Marsden Hartley
Arthur Dove
Arthur Dove
Arthur Dove was an early American modernist painter and one of the first legitimate abstract painters of the twentieth century. With influences ranging from Fauvism and Expressionism to Asian art and mixed media, Dove was an essential precursor to Abstract Expressionism.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Arthur Dove
Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud is an American painter, commonly associated with the Pop art movement. Thiebaud's paintings often employ seemingly mundane subject matter, such as candy, pastries, toilets, shoes, and other popular consumer items.

Modern Art Information Wayne Thiebaud
Peter Doig
Peter Doig
Peter Doig is a Scottish painter, best known for his abstracted landscapes that depict snowy outdoor scenes inspired by his childhood growing up in Canada. Doig derives much of his inspiration from found photographs.

Modern Art Information Peter Doig
Leonide Massine
Leonide Massine
Leonide Massine was a twentieth-century Russian choreographer and ballet dancer. Massine famously choreographed the world's first symphonic ballet, bringing together dance and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.

Modern Art Information Leonide Massine
Paul Rosenberg
Paul Rosenberg
Paul Rosenberg was a French art dealer who represented such artists as Picasso, Braque and Matisse. In the 1940s Rosenberg moved to New York City to open a gallery, and was among the few dealers who helped increase U.S. awareness of the modern masters.

Modern Art Information Paul Rosenberg
Ambroise Vollard
Ambroise Vollard
Ambroise Vollard was an important dealer, collector, and arts patron in late nineteenth-centry and early twentieth-century Paris. His interests were diverse, spanning Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and modernism, and included such artists as Renoir, Cézanne, Gaugin, Matisse, and Picasso.

Modern Art Information Ambroise Vollard
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler was a German art dealer, gallery owner and champion of Cubism. Kahnweiler is credited as one of the first people to truly appreciate the early works of Picasso, Braque, Léger and other experimental Cubist painters. The success of such artists is in large part due to Kahnweiler's purchase and promotion of these works.

Modern Art Information Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907-1911, and it continued to be highly influential long after its decline. This classic phase has two stages: 'Analytic', in which forms seem to be 'analyzed' and fragmented; and 'Synthetic', in which pre-existing materials such as newspaper and wood veneer are collaged to the surface of the canvas.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Cubism
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
A tendency among New York painters of the late 1940s and '50s, all of whom were committed to an expressive art of profound emotion and universal themes. The movement embraced the gestural abstraction of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and the color field painting of Mark Rothko and others. It blended elements of Surrealism and abstract art in an effort to create a new style fitted to the postwar mood of anxiety and trauma.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Abstract Expressionism
Pop Art
Pop Art
British artists of the 1950s were the first to make popular culture the dominant subject of their art, and this idea became an international phenomenon in the 1960s. But the Pop art movement is most associated with New York, and artists such as Andy Warhol, who broke with the private concerns of the Abstract Expressionists, and turned to themes which touched on public life and mass society.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Pop Art
Jim Dine
Jim Dine
Jim Dine is an American painter commonly associated with the Neo-Dada and Pop art movements. In addition to showing alongside such Pop icons as Warhol, Lichtenstein and Ruscha, Dine is also well known for collaborating with Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg and John Cage on a series of "happenings" in 1957, now considered a pioneering step for the medium.

Modern Art Information Jim Dine
Houses of l'Estaque
<i>Houses of l'Estaque</i>

Title: Houses of l'Estaque (1908)

Artwork Description & Analysis: 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.


Oil on canvas - Museum of Art, Berne

Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on the Mantlepiece
<i>Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on the Mantlepiece</i>

Title: Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on the Mantlepiece (1911)

Artwork Description & Analysis: 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.


Oil on canvas - Tate Collection, London

Bottle and Fishes
<i>Bottle and Fishes</i>

Title: Bottle and Fishes (1910-12)

Artwork Description & Analysis: 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.


Oil on canvas - Tate London

Violin and Pipe
<i>Violin and Pipe</i>

Title: Violin and Pipe (1913)

Artwork Description & Analysis: Collage helped Braque to realize that, "color acts simultaneously with form but has nothing to do with it,". He made collages to inspire painting compositions, but also as works themselves. In Violin and Pipe, he chooses a stringed instrument as his subject matter. Since there is no concrete evidence that this is a violin, one can understand better how Braque is studying the shapes within the object and pulling them apart to move them around, as if shuffling a deck of cards.


Paper, mixed media, pencil on paper - ---

Fruit on a Table-cloth with a Fruit Dish
<i>Fruit on a Table-cloth with a Fruit Dish</i>

Title: Fruit on a Table-cloth with a Fruit Dish (1925)

Artwork Description & Analysis: The subject matter of this painting commemorates a banquet held in Braque's honor upon returning from the war. Picasso and Gris made headway in Synthetic Cubism, while Braque resumed the development of his own style, still Cubist, but more concentrated on color and texture. Fruit on a Table-cloth with a Fruit Dish shows a table display flattened out in the pictorial plane as Braque had done many times before, but here he replicates the texture of wood and marble, and even shades the fruit.


Oil on canvas - Centre Pompidou

Balustre et Crane
<i>Balustre et Crane</i>

Title: Balustre et Crane (1938)

Artwork Description & Analysis: Balustre et Crane predicts a series of still lifes Braque created called Vanitas, in which objects symbolize agony or mental misery. He painted skulls repeatedly following his return from war and during the onset of World War II. In these paintings, Balustre et Crane in particular, Braque uses a bright array of colors to represent emotional reactions to the political discomfort he felt about the war.


Oil on canvas - Private Collection

Bibliography
The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing this page. These also suggests some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.