Georges Braque

Georges Braque

1882 – 1963

Georges Braque along with Pablo Picasso developed cubism and the cubist style, and  became one of the major figures of 20th-century art.

Georges Braque was born in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, France. He grew up in Le Havre and trained to be a house painter and decorator like his father and grandfather, but he also studied painting in the evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre from about 1897 to 1899. He apprenticed in Paris under a decorator and was awarded his certificate in 1901. The following year he attended the Academie Hummer and painted there until 1904. It was here that he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia.

His earliest works were impressionistic, however he became impressed by the bold style of work exhibited by the Fauves in 1905 and soon adopted a Fauvist style. 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, Antwerp, and home to Le Havre to paint.

In 1907, Georges Braque successfully exhibited works in the Fauve style in the Salon des Indépendants. The same year, Georges 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 widely exhibited in Paris.

In his works of 1908 to 1913 Braque’s paintings began to evidence 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. In this way Braque called attention to the very nature of visual illusion and artistic representation.

Beginning in 1909, Georges Braque began to work closely with Pablo Picasso who had been developing a similar approach to painting. Both artists produced paintings of neutralized color and complex patterns of faceted form, now called Analytic Cubism. In 1912, they began to experiment with collage and papier collé. Their productive collaboration continued until 1914 when Braque enlisted in the French Army, leaving Paris to fight in the First World War.

Georges Braque was severely wounded in the War, and resumed his artistic career alone in 1917, whereupon he moved away from the harsher abstraction of cubism and 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 lifes during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure. During his recovery he formed a close relationship with the famous cubist artist Juan Gris. He 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. He died August 31, 1963, in Paris.

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