gigatos | January 10, 2022
Georges Braque, born May 13, 1882 in Argenteuil (Seine-et-Oise, now Val-d”Oise) and died August 31, 1963 in Paris, was a French painter, sculptor and printmaker.
By methodically studying Paul Cézanne”s contour lines from 1906 onwards, Braque gradually arrived at compositions that used slight interruptions in the lines, as in Still Life with Jugs. Then with a series of nudes such as the Standing Nude, and The Large Nude, he moves, after 1908, towards a break with the classical vision, the bursting of volumes, a period commonly called cubist, which lasts from 1911 until 1914. He then used geometric shapes mainly for still lifes, introduced stencilled letters in his paintings, and invented glued papers. As a true “thinker” of cubism, he develops the laws of perspective and color. He also invented paper sculptures in 1912, all of which have disappeared, of which only a photograph of a counter-relief remains.
Mobilized for the Great War, where he was seriously wounded, the painter abandoned geometric forms for still lifes where objects are in recomposed planes. During the following period, which lasted until the 1930s, he produced landscapes and human figures and, despite the diversity of his subjects, his work is “remarkably coherent. Braque, at once a precursor and a repository of the classical tradition, is the French painter par excellence. The Cahier de Georges Braque, 1917-1947, published in 1948, summarizes his position.
The Second World War inspired his most serious works: Le Chaudron and La Table de cuisine. The return of peace and the end of his illness inspired him to do more in-depth works, such as the Ateliers, which he often elaborated over several years, pursuing six drafts at a time, as Jean Paulhan testified. His best-known paintings are also the most poetic: the Birds series, two of which have adorned the ceiling of the Henri-II room in the Louvre Museum since 1953. He also created sculptures, stained glass windows, and jewelry designs, but from 1959, suffering from cancer, he slowed down his work. His last great painting is La Sarcleuse.
A discreet man, not much given to public relations, Braque was an intellectual with a passion for music and poetry, a friend of Erik Satie, René Char and Alberto Giacometti. He died on August 31, 1963 in Paris. A national funeral was organized in his honor, during which André Malraux gave a speech.
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Georges Braque grew up in a family of craftsmen. He was the son of Augustine Johannet (1859-1942) and Charles Braque (1855-1911), a painter-decorator and building contractor “Charles Braque et Cie”, also a “Sunday painter” and a former student of Théodule Ribot. He often painted landscapes inspired by the Impressionists and regularly exhibited in Le Havre, where in 1890, the family settled. Henriette (1878-1950) was Georges Braque”s older sister. In 1893, the boy entered high school. But he has no taste for study, he is fascinated by the life of the port and draws after Gil-Blas caricatures of Steinlein and Toulouse-Lautrec. Nevertheless, he enrolled in Courchet”s class at the École supérieure d”art du Havre, directed by a student of Charles Lhuillier, Alphonse Lamotte. The municipal school has as a stated goal to train “craftsmen” and “workers who have a love of line” who otherwise “would only be laborers. At the same time, he took flute lessons with Gaston Dufy, Raoul Dufy”s brother. He received the second prize of the second division of the art school in July 1899.
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In 1899, he left high school without taking the baccalaureate and entered as an apprentice to his father, then to Roney, a friend of theirs who was a painter-decorator. The following year, he came to Paris to continue his apprenticeship with a painter-decorator, Laberthe, his father”s former partner, where he practiced color grinding, faux wood and faux marble. At the same time, he attended the municipal course of Batignolles in the class of Eugene Quignolot. He lived in Montmartre, rue des Trois-Frères. He obtained his diploma of painter-decorator. In 1901, he did his military service in the 129th infantry regiment of Le Havre. On his return, with the consent of his parents, he decided to devote himself entirely to painting.
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Between Paris and Le Havre
He returned to Paris in 1902, moved to Montmartre on rue Lepic in October, and entered the Humbert Academy on boulevard de Rochechouart. It was there that he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia, who became his confidant and companion in Montmartre, where they drew each other, went out on the town, shared their jokes, their secrets and their “lazy days”. But Marie is a teaser, not easy to seduce. The shy Braque only has a chaste affair with her. It will take all the technique of love Paulette Philippe to stretch the great shy around which however a large number of women turn. Henri-Pierre Roché meets them together at the Quat”z”Arts Ball while Braque is disguised as a Roman. This life of “luxury and voluptuousness” strengthens the young man in his decision to break the ties. He destroys all his production from the summer of 1904, which he spent in Honfleur, abandons Humbert and makes contact with Léon Bonnat in May 1905 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he meets Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy.
That same year, he studied the Impressionists at the Musée du Luxembourg, whose collection consisted mainly of the bequest of Gustave Caillebotte; he also visited the galleries of Durand-Ruel and Vollard. He settled in a studio that he rented on rue d”Orsel, opposite the Montmartre theater, where he attended the many period dramas and rallied to Fauvism. His decision was undoubtedly due to his friendship with Othon Friesz, who was also from Le Havre; the two young artists went together to Antwerp in 1906 and the following year to the South of France.
Later, Georges Braque introduced Marie Laurencin to the Bateau-Lavoir and encouraged her and Matisse to pursue a career as a painter. He believed in her talent.
Braque exhibited regularly in Le Havre, with the Société des amis des Arts in 1902 and 1905, (with his father), then the same year, his first exhibition was held at the Galerie Beuzebosc. He exhibited annually from 1906 to 1909 with the Cercle de l”Art Modern du Havre of which he was a founding member and the Comité Peintures with his father, Raoul Dufy and Othon Friez, among others.his father died in 1911, he is buried in the cemetery of Argenteuil
From fauvism to cubism
In the summer of 1905, once again in Honfleur, then in Le Havre in the company of the sculptor Manolo, the art critic Maurice Raynal, and pushed by Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz to use pure colors, Braque exhibited at the 1905 Salon d”Automne alongside Matisse, Derain, and his friends from Le Havre, who were described as Fauvists. For nearly two years, Braque engaged with the Fauve system based on his own reading of Cézanne”s work. The most characteristic example of Braque”s Fauvism is found in Petite Baie de La Ciotat, 1907, oil on canvas (60.3 × 72.7 cm), Musée National d”Art Moderne, which the painter deemed important enough to buy back in 1959.
From 1907 onwards, Georges Braque stayed in the South of France in the company of Othon Friesz and, after meditating at length on Paul Cézanne”s use of line and color, he produced a large number of paintings relating to the landscapes of Estaque, almost all in several versions: Le Viaduc de l”Estaque (1907), Le Viaduc de l”Estaque (1908), Route de l”Estaque (1908), Terrasse à l”Estaque (1908), La Baie de l”Estaque (1908), Les Toits d”usine à l”Estaque (1908), Chemin à l”Estaque (1908), Paysage à l”Estaque (1908).
Houses in Estaque was reproduced in 34 publications and presented in 22 exhibitions, from 1908 to 1981.
The painting having been refused at the 1908 Salon d”Automne, the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, very shocked by this reaction, offered Georges Braque the use of his gallery to present this work, as well as all of the painter”s recent works. Kahnweiler had just opened a small gallery at 28, rue Vignon in Paris and he entrusted the preface of the catalog to Guillaume Apollinaire who launched into a dithyramb: “Here is Georges Braque. He leads an admirable life. He strives with passion towards beauty and he reaches it, it seems, without effort.
That same year, Braque visited Pablo Picasso”s studio, where he discovered two paintings: Les Demoiselles d”Avignon and Three Women, which was not yet finished. The constructive rhythms of these paintings are taken from Cézanne, but more cut and distorted. At first, they provoke the astonishment of Braque, who had already begun the same process with his Nudes. But it was not from these canvases that he drew his inspiration for Le Grand Nu, begun in 1907 and completed in 1908.
“It is not to take anything away from their subversive force to the Demoiselles d”Avignon or to the Grand nu à la draperie, it is not to underestimate the rupture that they mark in the history of painting to write that they did not radically reconvert the research of Georges Braque.
Picasso”s audacity surprised him all the same and, at first, Braque would have been reluctant, but here, the conditional is necessary.
There are at least three versions of Braque”s reaction, reported either by Kahnweiler, who was not there, or by André Salmon, who was not there either, or by Fernande Olivier, whose statements are questionable, since she threatened Picasso with embarrassing revelations about that period in her Souvenirs intime. Thanks to Madame Braque”s intercession and Picasso”s payment of one million francs, Fernande gave up her blackmail. In fact, Braque was already on a different path, he had begun variations on the landscapes of Estaque. But the importance of his works would take a long time to reveal itself: the most important ones were kept in private collections for most of the twentieth century, “which did not help Braque”s cause in the debates on anteriority.
When he reflected on them, after having seen them, these paintings confirmed the directions of the research he had already carried out with Viaduc à l”Estaque or Le Grand Nu. It was from this point on that the “Braque-Picasso relationship” began, with two artists constantly searching and confronting each other. Knowing how to read the pattern, this is what Braque taught Picasso from their first meeting. According to Pierre Daix: “What the meeting between Picasso and Braque brings out is that the motif is no longer painting. It is the composition, through its contrasting rhythms, which reveals what there was of structural – provided that one knows how to read it – in the motif.”
In 1907, Braque had already begun his own revolution with Standing Nude (which is sometimes confused with The Great Nude). Standing Nude is little known, not often exhibited, and belongs to a private collection. It is an ink on paper of small format (31 × 20 cm), in which the painter had already experimented with a construction of the body in geometric forms that he later developed in several etchings, where the standing nude female body has several positions (arms along the body, behind the back, head upright, bent). In Le Grand Nu and Nu debout, as well as in other representations of the female body: La Femme (1907), a drawing given by Braque to the American art critic Gelett Burgess to illustrate his article The Wild Men in Paris, the body appears to have been broken down and then recomposed in three viewpoints. A photograph of Braque and the drawing La Femme appeared on page 2 of Burgess” article in The Architectural Record of May 1910.
The forms are modeled according to a structure and a rhythm which are the two fundamental notions of cubism. His inspiration is instinctive and his pictorial path follows in the footsteps of Paul Cézanne. Braque was also imbued with the figures of the Negro masks of which he owned several copies. “The Negro masks opened new horizons for me. They allowed me to get in touch with the instinctive. At that time, the “discovery of Negro art” is claimed by a host of artists, including Maurice de Vlaminck or André Derain. Braque does not claim any anteriority. He simply bought some Tsogo masks from a sailor in 1904 and continued to complete his collection with Fang masks.
Le Grand Nu was owned by Louis Aragon and then by the collector Marie Cuttoli before joining the collection of Alex Maguy. In 2002, the work entered the public collections by “dation in payment of inheritance tax”, it is now kept at the National Museum of Modern Art.
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The cubist period
There are several versions of the origin of the word cubist and the “fathers” of the movement. Many art critics refer to Braque and Picasso in particular as “the founders of Cubism”. Others associate Fernand Léger and Juan Gris, while crediting Louis Vauxcelles, art critic for the newspaper Gil Blas with the invention of the word, when he described Braque”s Houses at Estaque as “small cubes. This painting is then considered as “the birth act of cubism”. Others still bring a different version. According to Bernard Zurcher, it was Henri Matisse who called the Houses at Estaque “cubist”, while rejecting these geometric sites and patterns at the 1908 Autumn Salon.
“This terrible simplification that brought cubism to the baptismal font is largely responsible for a real movement for which neither Braque nor Picasso wanted to take responsibility. A movement whose theorists (Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger) will hardly go beyond the “cubic” oddities stigmatized by Vauxcelles.”
In reality, for Braque and Picasso, these “cubes” were only a provisional response to the problem posed by the construction of a pictorial space that had to depart from the notion of perspective established since the Renaissance. The “Braque Picasso ropeway” is a research workshop of the two artists, with works carried out simultaneously by passionate men joined by Derain and Dufy. It was an exciting adventure that laid the foundations of modern art.
However, afterwards, the Spanish painter claimed for himself, in front of Kahnweiler, the inventions of papier collés that he said he had made in Céret and finally he attributed the invention of cubism to himself, accusing Braque of having imitated him during their cubist period, which created a huge misunderstanding about the importance of Braque”s work. According to Olivier Cena: “Forty years later, Picasso does not want to leave anything to Braque, neither the analytical cubism, nor the synthetic cubism…”
The misinterpretations were then fueled by various personalities, including Gertrude Stein, whose assertions Eugene Jolas refutes by quoting Matisse: “In my memory, it was Braque who made the first Cubist painting. He had brought back a Mediterranean landscape from the South. It is really the first painting that constitutes the origin of cubism and we considered it as something radically new.
William Rubin considers that Braque”s cubism predates the Houses at Estaque. He refers to Still Life with Jugs and Pipe, whose location and dimensions are unknown, as the first Cubist work by the painter, who chose objects with a curved envelope, the composition being set diagonally and centered by the meeting of two oblique axes.
Braque then entered the period of “analytical cubism”. The landscapes that predominated in the painter”s work will gradually give way to still lifes. These landscapes were only the preparatory phase for a more fruitful period, which saw the birth of Broc and Violin, 1909-1910, oil on canvas (117 × 75 cm), Kunstmuseum, Basel, Violin and Palette (92 × 43 cm) and Piano and Mandora (92 × 43 cm), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The painter no longer seeks to copy nature. Through a succession of dynamic articulations, by multiplying the points of view, his painting is enriched by unexpected combinations, with a multiplication of facets. The forms are then geometrized and simplified.
“If we consider that the battle of Cubism was ultimately played out on the theme of still life, Braque was the best prepared for it, or rather he was able, by consolidating each of the stages of his evolution, to go more surely to that ”sign that suffices” as Matisse named it.”
In 1911, the painter met Marcelle Lapré who became his wife in 1926. He left for Céret where he stayed with Picasso all year.
From this point on, Braque invented a new vocabulary, introducing stenciled letters into his paintings, printing type: The Portuguese (The Emigrant) (117 × 81 cm), Kunstmuseum, Basel, Still Life with Banderillas (65.4 × 54.9 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art. In an interview with the art critic Dora Vallier, he explained, “these were forms where there was nothing to distort because, being solids, the letters were out of space and their presence in the painting, therefore, made it possible to distinguish the objects that were in space, from those that were out of space.” Braque also embarked on freehand inscriptions, arranged in parallel to recall poster type. In The Portuguese (L”Emigrant), the word BAL is deciphered in the upper right-hand corner, a word that returned the following year in Still Life with a Violin BAL (Kunstmuseum Basel).
The following year in Sorgues, he joined Picasso and rented the villa of Bel-Air. Braque”s paper collages made their appearance: Compotier et verre (50 × 65 cm), private collection. It was a great discovery that would be reproduced by many painters: Juan Gris, Henri Laurens, Fernand Léger, Albert Gleizes. The papers are compositions, not to be confused with the collages that Braque made later.
It was also in Sorgues that Braque perfected his paper sculpture technique, invented in Céret in 1911, according to an article by Christian Zervos in the Cahiers d”art. We find traces of these sculptures in a letter sent to Kahnweiler, in August 1912, where the artist says he takes advantage of his stay in the country to do what cannot be done in Paris, among other things, paper sculptures “which give him great satisfaction.” Unfortunately, nothing remains of these ephemeral constructions, except for a photograph of a counter-relief from 1914, discovered in the Laurens archives, which the paper sculptures of 1912 probably did not resemble. According to Bernard Zurcher, they are closer to the still lifes of the same year (1912), which followed the principle of inversion of the relief characteristic of the Wobe mask.
The paper collages of Braque, for Jean Paulhan, “who spent half his life trying to explain the nature of the work of Braque” are “Machines to see”. According to him, cubism consists in “substituting the raw space to the concerted space of the classics. This substitution is done by means of a machine analogous to the perspective machine of Filippo Brunelleschi, and to the squared glass of Albrecht Dürer according to Jean Paulhan. Dürer”s squared glass, also called squaring, is a way for the draftsman to enlarge or reduce a drawing without the intervention of perspective. Braque often used this squaring. An example of this can be seen in the photo of the studio where he worked on The Bird and its Nest in 1955, taken by Mariette Lachaud. In the upper part of the painting, the traces of the tiling are still visible, detached from the main subject.
Braque remained in Sorgue until November 1912, while Picasso returned to Paris where he began to execute his own papiers collés. He writes to Braque: “My dear friend Braque, I am using your latest paper and pusiereux processes. I am imagining a guitar and I am using a little bit of paper against our terrible canvas. I am very happy that you are happy in your villa in Bel Air, and that you are happy with your work. I, as you can see, am starting to work a little. However Braque advances in his research of glued paper, drifting on papers having the appearance of fake wood, he also imitates marble. The inversions of relief multiply and optical signs appear towards the end of 1913, playing on the repetition of a geometric figure or a decorative motif. Braque added new objective signs the following year: guitar strings, violin strings, playing cards, a piece of newspaper transformed into a playing card.
Towards the end of the “paper period”, corrugated cardboard appeared. The painter introduces into his composition the notion of relief, which will be very successful from 1917, both in his collages and in those of his best friend, the sculptor Henri Laurens. Among the important works of the period of collaged papers (1913-1914), we find Le Petit Éclaireur (92 × 63 cm), charcoal, newsprint, fake wood paper and black paper glued on canvas, Lille Metropole Museum, Still life on a table (Gillette) where is reproduced the envelope of a razor blade Gillette (48 × 62 cm), Centre Pompidou, Paris, Violin and pipe THE DAILY (74 × 100 cm), charcoal, faux wood paper, wallpaper braid, black paper, newsprint glued on paper, pasted on cardboard, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
This was also the period of musical instruments. Violin (72 × 31 cm), charcoal, plain pasted paper, faux wood, mural, and newspaper on paper, Cleveland Museum of Art, Violin (35 × 37 cm), oil, charcoal, pencil, and pasted paper on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Violin and newspaper PARTY (90 × 60 cm), Philadelphia Museum.
Braque never stops inventing. As early as 1912, living with Marcelle Lapré at 5, impasse Guelma, he mixed sawdust and sand with his paint to give relief to his canvases. In 1913, he moved his studio to rue Caulaincourt while his works were presented in New York at the Armory Show. However, that year, the relationship between the two painters deteriorated and they no longer felt the need to meet. The gap had widened, the “cordée” was disintegrating. Two private exhibitions presented Braque in Germany in the spring of 1914, in Berlin, at the Feldmann Gallery, then in Dresden, at the Emil Richter Gallery. At the time of the assassination of the Duke of Austria, Braque spent the summer in Sorgues with his wife. He was mobilized and took the train with Derain on August 2, 1914, to Avignon, where they were accompanied by the “rope companion” who was to multiply the author”s words reported in various ways according to biographers.
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The war of 1914 and its consequences
Braque”s mobilization to the front in 1914 abruptly interrupted the painter”s career. He was assigned to the 224th Infantry Regiment as a sergeant and sent to the Somme in Maricourt, a sector where Braque”s regiment (now Lieutenant Braque) remained for three months before being moved to Artois, north of Arras, to prepare a large-scale offensive against the villages protecting Vimy Ridge.
Seriously wounded on May 11, 1915 at Neuville-Saint-Vaast, Braque was left for dead on the battlefield. He was relieved by the stretcher bearers who had stumbled upon his body the next day, in this mass grave where 17,000 men had been crushed. The painter was sick and only regained consciousness after two days in a coma. Twice cited, he received the Croix de Guerre. After a banquet organized to celebrate his recovery in Paris, he left to convalesce in Sorgues.
With the poet Pierre Reverdy, Georges Braque wrote his Pensées et réflexions sur la peinture (thoughts and reflections on painting) which were published in the journal Nord-Sud. He was then close to Juan Gris, who communicated to him his taste for sophisticated textures and planes reduced to geometric forms. It was with Gris that he began to paint again as a “born blind painter – this reborn blind man” in the words of Jean Paulhan, with notably Guitar and Glass (60.1 × 91.5 cm), Kröller-Müller Museum Otterlo.
During this period, Braque was not far from thinking that Picasso was “betraying” Cubism and their youth. But the discreet painter resumed his research. He became a “verifier”. He refines his findings and develops a new vocabulary of his painting. This will be the “synthetic cubism” whose first creations, begun in 1913 with Compotier and cards, oil enhanced with pencil and charcoal on canvas (81 × 60 cm), Centre Pompidou, Paris, resume in 1917 with The Mandolin Player (92 × 65 cm), oil on canvas, Musée de Lille Métropole, The Musician, oil on canvas (221.4 × 112.8 cm), Kunstmuseum, Basel.
Around 1919, when cubism was triumphant, when Gleizes, Metzinger, Maurice Raynal discovered reasons, laws, limits, Georges Braque declared: “I had long ago left the camp. It is not me who would make Braque to measure.
A few years later, in his book, Braque le patron, Jean Paulhan draws a parallel between the art of the Cubists and the art of war camouflage. “War camouflage was the work of the Cubists: if you like, it was also their revenge. The paintings that public opinion would have obstinately reproached for not looking like anything were, at the moment of danger, the only ones that could look like anything. They recognized themselves in Braque”s still lifes, and the aviator who doubted the forest of the Ardennes or the Beauce no longer hesitated in front of a cannon retouched by Braque. Paulhan also recalls that the official painter in charge of the camouflage of the cannons in 1915, Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scevola, said, in the chapter “Memories of camouflage”, that he had used to totally deform the appearance of the object, the means that the cubists used, which had allowed him thereafter, to hire in his section some painters able, by their very special vision, to distort any form.
But from then on, Braque”s new paintings offered a more vivid and sensual palette, as in La Femme à la mandoline, 1922-1923, oil on cardboard (41 × 33 cm), Centre Pompidou, Paris. In the early 1920s, the painter varied his production further at the request of Serge de Diaghilev, composing sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes. Between 1922 and 1926, he made the sets and costumes for Les Fâcheux, an adaptation of Molière”s comedy-ballet, Salade, Zephira and Flore, and also the sets for Michel Fokine”s ballet Sylphides. Diaghilev finds the painter to be a rather awkward character and, moreover, he has no business sense, which is true according to Jean Paulhan.
The curtain of the ballet Salade was bequeathed to the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris in 1955 by Count Etienne de Beaumont. Locked up since that date in the reserves of the Palais de Tokyo, it has just been taken out and will be restored.
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The interwar period, synthetic cubism and still lifes
Juan Gris was the only Cubist painter whose value Braque recognized apart from Picasso; he said of the others: “They ”cubisted” the paintings, they published books on Cubism, and all this naturally distanced me more and more from them. The only one who pushed the cubist research consciously in my opinion was Gris.”
At this time, it was the sculptors Jacques Lipchitz and Henri Laurens who played a more significant role than the painters in Braque”s development. The painter develops flat tints of color. Braque no longer deforms, he forms, as he confirms in his notebook. Thus occurs the “metamorphosis” which is characterized by the use of the black background, of which he says to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, refugee in Switzerland, that “the black is a color of which the impressionism deprived us so a long time and which is so beautiful…”.
The exhibition of his recent works, in March 1919, at Léonce Rosenberg”s Galerie de L”Effort moderne was enthusiastically received. On this occasion, a first monograph of Braque was published by Roger Bissière, who emphasized the meticulous aspect of the painter”s work: “Braque was perhaps the first among the moderns to glimpse the poetry that emanates from a fine craft, from a work made with love and patience.” This is the second solo exhibition of the painter who renews his contract with Léonce Rosenberg in May 1920, the year in which he creates his first sculpture: La Femme debout in six copies. This period, which lasted until the early 1930s, was also the period of Canéphores, 1922 (180.5 × 73.5 cm), oil on canvas, Centre Pompidou, Paris, as well as nudes and female figures, Trois Baigneuses, oil on wood (18 × 75 cm), private collection.
But in 1921, things went wrong between Rosenberg and Braque. The liquidation of Kahnweiler”s stock, confiscated during the war, took place at the Hôtel Drouot. The expert was precisely Léonce Rosenberg, who had managed to get himself appointed there, and who took advantage of his dominant position to undervalue works that he would buy back at low prices. On the first day of the sale at Drouot, Braque tried to box him in along with poor Amédée Ozenfant who tried to intervene. The affair ended at the police station, and the belligerents were finally released. Léonce Rosenberg resells the paintings he has bought at a huge profit. His brother Paul did the same. One of the big losers in all this was the French state, which let works like Man with a Guitar (1913-1914) slip away in 1921 for 2,820 francs, a painting it would buy back for the National Museum of Modern Art sixty years later for nine million francs.
The painter”s style and research evolved between 1919 and 1939. From his cubist past, he kept the simultaneity of points of view, the development of objects on the same plane, and the inversion of space. He always uses black as a background to suggest depth, and he operates a partition of objects and planes that distance them from any realism. In this respect, Guitar and Still Life on the Mantelpiece, 1925, oil and sand on canvas (130.5 × 74.6 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Fruit on a Tablecloth and Fruit Bowl, oil on canvas (130.5 × 75 cm), Centre Pompidou, are characteristic of this evolution. The objects seem to be accessories to the composition, and all his efforts are focused on color, as Georges Charensol noted at the Braque exhibition at Paul Rosenberg”s in 1926, which featured Fruits sur une tablecloth et compotier. Braque pushed the use of contrast even further in Nature morte à la clarinette, 1927, oil on canvas (55.9 × 75 cm), The Phillips Collection with forms described as “naturalistic” by Christian Zervos.
Since 1925, Braque has been living in Montparnasse, rue du Douanier, in a house-studio built on the plans of Auguste Perret. In 1926 he married Marcelle Lapré, with whom he had lived since 1912. His neighbors were Louis Latapie and Roger Bissière in the street that now bears his name: rue Georges-Braque.
The 1930s saw the appearance of Tablecloths: Nappe rose (1933) and Nappe jaune, 1935 (114.3 × 144.8 cm), private collection, which in 1937 received the first prize from the Carnegie Foundation of Pittsburgh. The painter also experimented with engraved plaster casts, Heraklès, 1931 (187 × 105.8 cm), Maeght Foundation, the etchings Théogonie d”Hésiode, 1932, a set of eight etchings (53 × 38 cm), Belfort Museums, commissioned by Ambroise Vollard to illustrate the book of the same name, which was never published, as Vollard died in 1939.
Braque”s first retrospective exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1933 in Switzerland, marked the beginning of the painter”s international recognition. It was followed in 1934 by Braque”s Recent Paintings at the Valentine Gallery in New York, opened in 1937 by the German gallery owner Curt Valentin. According to Frank Elgar: “It was during the 1930s that Braque painted his most concentrated and savory still lifes. His cliffs, his beached boats, his double-sided figures testify to his happiest period. However, from 1940 onwards, he was in danger.
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During the Second World War
From 1939 to 1940, the Braque couple was in Varengeville during the phony war with Joan Miró, who had rented a house near the Braques” in August 1939 and who would remain in France until 1940. “The two painters maintained a relationship of friendship and trust, without the neighborhood of that time and the friendship of always having deviated one millimeter from the path of one and the other.” Braque simply invited his Catalan friend to use the transfer paper process, a printing technique for lithography. In Varengeville, on the same date, were also Georges Duthuit, Alexander Calder, as well as the poet Raymond Queneau and the architect Paul Nelson.
During this period, Braque devoted himself almost exclusively to sculpture, creating Hymen, Hesperis and Le Petit Cheval. The human sculptures are heads always in profile as in the reliefs of ancient Egypt. This style is derived from paintings such as The Duet, oil on canvas (129.8 × 160 cm) which offers two profiles of women sitting on their chairs.
In 1939-1940, Braque was the subject of a major retrospective in Chicago at The Arts Club of Chicago, also in Washington (The Phillips Collection) in San Francisco (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). He also had a solo exhibition in New York in 1941, then in Baltimore, then again in New York at Paul Rosenberg, in April 1942. In 1943, the Galerie de France devoted an exhibition to him, Twelve Paintings by Georges Braque, while the Salon d”automne in Paris presented 26 paintings and 9 sculptures. Jean Bazaine devoted an article to him in Comœdia. Jean Paulhan published Braque le patron the same year.
Between 1940 and 1945, the Braques resided first in the Limousin, then in the Pyrenees in Caujac, where they hosted their nephew Jacques Gosselin, and finally returned to Paris. They did not return to Varengeville until 1945. In 1941, many of Braque”s paintings deposited in Libourne were confiscated by the German authorities.
Braque did not take part in the trip to Berlin organized in 1941 by Arno Breker and Otto Abetz, which included André Derain, Othon Friesz, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen and André Dunoyer de Segonzac. But he did not wish to disown his friend Derain, and the comment of him reported by Fernand Mourlot: “Fortunately, my painting does not please, I was not invited; otherwise, because of the promised liberations, I might have gone.” Remains, according to Alex Dantchev and Fernand Mourlot, a form of exoneration from any accusation of collaboration towards the friend Derain. Certainly, the link with Derain is broken, as is that with the other artists who made the same trip. In August 1943, Braque was the best man at the wedding of Geneviève Derain to Joseph Taillade at Derain”s estate in La Roseraie, Chambourcy. But Braque later distanced himself from the purge.
Similarly, he stayed away from the Vichy regime throughout the war. However, the occupying forces did not lack for advances, and his paintings aroused the enthusiasm of Pierre Drieu la Rochelle when twenty of his paintings were exhibited at the Autumn Salon in 1943. The German officers who visited his studio, judging it too cold, offered to deliver him coal, which Braque refused with finesse. He also refused to create an emblem for the Vichy government, although Gertrude Stein had offered to translate Pétain”s speeches. Braque has the opposite flaw: he does not allow himself to be bought. His position is clear: no compromise, no compromise. This did not prevent him from receiving Ernst Jünger in his studio on October 4, 1943. Writer and poet in occupier”s uniform that year, Jünger, who received the Goethe Prize in 1982 and who entered the Pléiade in 2008, appreciated the “degenerate” paintings of Edvard Munch, James Ensor, the Douanier Rousseau, of Picasso, whom he visited that same year, and also of Braque, whose paintings he saw at the Autumn Salon in 1943, and which he finds “comforting, because they represent the moment when we come out of nihilism. Their strength, both in form and in tone, represent for him the moment when we gather in ourselves the material of new creation.
Cloistered in his studio for the duration of the war, Braque devoted himself to the theme of Interiors, with a strong return to black, giving an impression of simplicity and severity. For Georges Braque, the war was synonymous with austerity and depression. At that time, “there is hardly any room for emulation in Braque”s life: no competition, no discussion, no work in common. He undertook his work in secret. A woman sitting in front of a deck of cards, seen in profile, titled La Patience, oil on canvas (146 × 114 cm), illustrates his state of mind.
During this period, Braque pursued his favorite subject: musical instruments, which had been appearing in his paintings since 1908, because: “The musical instrument, as an object, has this particularity that one can animate it by touching it, that is why I have always been attracted to musical instruments.” 1942 was a particularly fruitful year for the painter, who began several paintings on the theme of music, which he would later complete such as Man with a Guitar, 1942-1961 (130 × 97 cm), oil on canvas, private collection.
He made a few more drawings of women whose attitudes are reminiscent of his Fauvist period, Femme à la toilette (1942), but very soon still life took over: Two Fish in a Dish with a Jug, 1949-1941, oil on paper mounted on canvas, private collection, inaugurates a series of fish on a black background, Les Poissons noirs, 1942, oil on canvas (33 × 55 cm), Centre Pompidou, Paris, and several Vanities, Le Poêle (1942), and Le Cabinet de Toilette (1942), The Phillips Collection. All of these interiors are reminders that the artist “cloistered” himself in his home, including Large Interior with Palette, 1942 (143 × 195.6 cm), Menil Collection, Houston. His most significant paintings are of everyday objects, derisory objects, useful for survival, or for rationed food: Kitchen Table, oil on canvas (163 × 78 cm), private collection.
He produced a few male silhouettes against a dark background before beginning the Billiards series, which he continued until 1949. One of the most beautiful, The Billiards, 1947-1949 (145 × 195 cm) is in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela. It was exhibited at the Grand Palais (Paris) during the 2013 Georges Braque retrospective, with the years in which it was completed noted: 1947-1949.
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The post-war period
Braque stayed away from the purge and joined Varengeville. He did not join the French Communist Party either, despite repeated requests from Picasso and Simone Signoret. He also stayed away from Picasso, whose attitude he appreciated less and less and whom Maïa Plissetskaïa would later describe as a hooligan. He declined the invitation to stay at La Californie in Cannes, choosing instead to live with his new Parisian dealer, Aimé Maeght, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Nevertheless, each of the two painters tried to keep in touch with the other. Especially when Braque underwent an operation for a double stomach ulcer in 1945, Picasso came to see him every day, and he continued to seek his approval despite his aloof attitude.On December 24, 1950 his sister Henriette died.
From 1951 on, a sort of reconciliation began. Françoise Gilot visited Braque very often, even after his separation, and introduced him to her son Claude Picasso, then a teenager, who looked so much like his father that Braque burst into tears: the boy was the living portrait of his “rope companion” of the time. The true nature of the bond between the two painters remains unclear. According to Braque, it was not an artistic cooperation but “a union in independence”.
After a two-year convalescence, Braque regained his vigor and exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, then in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. In 1947, he was at the Tate Gallery in London. That same year, Aimé Maeght became his new Parisian dealer and published the first edition of the Cahiers G. Braque.
In 1948, at the Venice Biennale, where he presented the Billiards series, he received the Grand Prize for his entire body of work. This was followed by a series of exhibitions, in particular at MoMA in New York, which completed the international recognition of his work. Paul Rosenberg dedicated a new exhibition to him in his New York gallery in 1948.
In 1949, the painter began his Ateliers series, a series of eight paintings on the same theme, in a state of perpetual incompletion. These eternally reworked paintings are a real headache for the catalogs, especially for the English art critic John Richardson, who has great difficulty in dating them in his article The Ateliers of Braque. For Braque constantly changes the content and numbering of the paintings in this series. If we compare Robert Doisneau”s photograph of Atelier VII (1952-1956) in Varengeville, we can see that it has been modified, that the painter has moved the objects and that it has become Atelier IX. The last state of this painting is presented at the Grand Palais in 2013, oil on canvas (146 × 146 cm), Centre Georges Pompidou.
The bird, whose presence brings a new dimension to six of the eight Ateliers, made its appearance in Atelier IV, 1949, oil on canvas (130 × 195 cm), private collection, with its wings outstretched, occupying one-third of the space. One of the most frequently reproduced is Atelier I, 1949, oil on canvas (92 × 73 cm), private collection. It features a painting within a painting and a large white jug “in a keyhole.” Atelier VIII is the most frontal and highest in color of the series (132.1 × 196.9 cm), Fundación Masaveu, Oviedo.
The order of dating of the Ateliers, finally retained for the last retrospective in 2013, is that established by Nicole Worms de Romilly in her Catalogue raisonné de l”œuvre de Braque (éditions Maeght, seven volumes, published from 1959 to 1982). Les Ateliers were present from January 1949 at the retrospective organized at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the Cleveland Museum of Art, for which Jean Cassou wrote the catalog.
In 1955, the English painter and critic Patrick Heron sent Braque his book, The Changing Forms of Art, which describes in particular the Ateliers and the Billards, as sets of flat surfaces from which space is born, combined with straight, diagonal, partially buried lines, playing with Cubist geometry. Braque replied: “I had some passages translated from your book on painting that I read with interest. You open the eyes to those that ordinary criticism leads astray.”
Paulhan notes that Braque is one of the very few painters who did not do his self-portrait, and he is surprised that so little is known about the man who was unanimously awarded the Legion of Honor as an officer and then as a commander in 1951. “He accepts the glory with calm. It is meager, I see it well, all these anecdotes. Yes, but it is also that in Braque, the anecdotal man is quite thin. The man is elsewhere.”
Braque was a handsome man, he was photographed by Robert Doisneau in Varengeville, in various situations: in the countryside. The painter was also portrayed by Man Ray who photographed him often, from 1922 to 1925, and drawn by his friend Giacometti as well as by Henri Laurens, while he still had his head bandaged in 1915. He also inspired photographers Mariette Lachaud, whose exhibition of forty photographs was held in Varengeville in August 2013. Braque was also an athlete, fond of sports and English boxing. In 1912, he enjoyed his reputation as a boxer and in 1997, the English art critic John Russell, in The New York Times, recalled his mastery of English boxing.
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In 1952, Georges Salles, Director of the Museums of France, commissioned Georges Braque to decorate the ceiling of the Henry II room in the Louvre Museum, which dates from 1938 and is about to be renovated. The subject chosen by the painter : The Birds is well suited to the room, and even those who were reluctant to mix modern and ancient art are finally seduced. In 1953, the ceiling decoration was inaugurated. The artist succeeded in transposing an intimate theme that was dear to him to the monumental plane. He solved the problem posed by the vast support by using large flat areas of color that give the whole strength and simplicity. Disappointed at not having been chosen for this project, Picasso claimed that Braque had copied his doves.
Braque produced a lot, but from his retreat in Varengeville-sur-mer, he went out very little. He gave up Provence. It was the young painters who came to visit him, notably Jean Bazaine. But above all Nicolas de Staël whom he encouraged vigorously and whose suicide in 1955 was to affect him greatly. Nicolas de Staël had such an admiration for Braque that he wrote to the American art critic and collector David Cooper: “I will always be infinitely grateful to you for having created this climate where Braque”s rhetoric receives the light all the better because he refused the great brilliance of it, where his paintings in a flash of lightning naturally make their way from Sophocles to the confidential tone of Baudelaire, without insisting, and keeping the great voice. It is unique.” In addition to this friendship that links them, Staël and Braque have something in common in their approach to painting at that time.
Black Birds (1956-1957, or 1960 depending on the source (129 × 181 cm), Adrien Maeght Collection, are representative of the completed “bird concept,” as is À tire d”aile, 1956-1961 (129 × 181 cm), Centre Pompidou, Paris. In the painting Les Oiseaux, 1960 (134 × 167.5 cm), the concept is reduced to almost abstract signs playing with light. Braque was very fond of his birds, and he kept them until his death in L”Oiseau et son nid, oil and sand on canvas (130.5 × 173.5 cm), Centre Georges Pompidou. “The Bird and its nest, which he kept until his death, we can not find a better self-portrait of Braque.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, Braque”s work was the subject of numerous exhibitions both in France and abroad, in Tokyo at the National Museum in 1952, at the Kunsthalle in Bern and at the Kunsthaus in Zurich in 1953. But while a gigantic exhibition of his work was organized at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1956, and then at the Tate Gallery in London, he remained in his studio in Paris and only left it to go to Varengeville. He was content to send his increasingly “winged” canvases. The Edinburgh exhibition was spread over twenty-three rooms and included eighty-nine paintings that attracted a very large audience. The following year, his sculptures were sent to the Cincinnati Museum, and later to Rome, where they were exhibited in late 1958 and early 1959, where he received the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize awarded by the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1959 to 1963, Braque, who had in 1950 with Jean Signovert made the engravings of Milarépa for Maeght editions, also works on artist”s books: with Pierre Reverdy, La Liberté des mers, with Frank Elgar, La Résurrection de l”oiseau (1959), with Apollinaire, Si je mourais là-bas, with Saint-John Perse, L”Ordre des oiseaux (1962), with René Char, Lettera Amorosa (1963).
Braque is one of the most important painters in the history of painting. He has influenced new generations of artists. After the 1946 exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London, deemed “badly mounted” by Patrick Heron, “Artists in want began, all over England, and unbeknownst to arrogant critics, to paint still lifes with herring.” Among the painters under Braque”s influence, Alex Danchev cites Ben Nicholson, John Piper or Bryan Winter, and the Americans William Congdon and Ellsworth Kelly. Françoise Gilot was surrounded by Braque”s works, and at the Juilliard School in New York, an art history course was taught entitled “Bach to Braque and Beyond.
Georges Braque also created stained glass windows: seven for the chapel of Saint-Dominique and the stained glass window representing a tree of Jesse in the parish church of Saint-Valéry in Varengeville-sur-Mer in 1954, as well as the sculpture of the door of the tabernacle of the church of Assy in 1948. The last exhibition of his work in France took place at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and presented his jewelry from March 22 to May 14, 1963. They are reproduced on many sites: here. That same year in Munich, a large retrospective exhibition presented his entire work from June 12 to October 6.
He died on August 31, 1963 at his home in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Alberto Giacometti, who came to draw his funeral portrait, wrote: “Tonight all of Braque”s work becomes relevant to me again. Of all this work, I look with the most interest, curiosity and emotion at the small landscapes, still lifes, modest bouquets of the last years, the very last years.” A state funeral was held for the artist on September 3. André Malraux delivered his eulogy in front of the Colonnade of the Louvre.
Georges Braque was buried the next day in the marine cemetery of Varengeville-sur-Mer. His wife, Marcelle Lapré, born on July 29, 1879 in Paris, was three years older than the painter. She died two years after him, but before that, “in 1965, shortly before his death, and in accordance with her husband”s wishes, Madame Braque made a donation of fourteen paintings and five sculptures that the painter did not want to leave France. She is buried alongside her husband in the marine cemetery of Varengeville.
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Fauvist period (1905-1907)
The artist was drawn into the Fauve system by his admiration for the “leader of the Fauves” of the time, Henri Matisse – who hardly returned it -, but above all by his friendship with Othon Friesz, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, who pushed him to action. Finally, he exhibited seven Fauvist paintings for the first time at the 1906 Salon des Indépendants, which were not successful and which he destroyed. Very productive, Braque began a flourishing period: his works were purchased by many museums afterwards. The majority of his works are landscapes, such as Mât dans le port d”Anvers, 1906, oil on canvas (46.5 × 38.4 cm), Centre Georges-Pompidou, Bateau à quai, Le Havre, 1905 (54 × 65 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York, See the painting exhibited in 2009 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux), Paysage à l”Estaque, 1906 (60.3 × 72.7 cm), Art Institute of Chicago, See Paysage à l”Estaque. And also nudes: Femme nue assise, 1907, oil on canvas (55.5 × 46.5 cm), Musée national d”art moderne, Paris. Description Seated Nude Woman, and Seated Nude, 1907, oil on canvas (61 × 50 cm), Samir Traboulsi collection.
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Analytical Cubism (1907 to 1912)
Braque”s Cubist period began mainly with landscapes, such as Le Viaduc à l”Estaque (1907) or Route près de l”Estaque, and especially Maisons à l”Estaque, declared a Cubist painting by Matisse, and later by Louis Vauxcelles, although the painter considered Les Instruments de musique to be his first truly Cubist painting. The debates on cubism are still confused, especially because Braque”s extreme discretion allowed his “rope-mate” to monopolize all the roles. Each, however, remained the other”s “preview” audience throughout the Braque-Picasso ropeway, from 1911 to 1912 during the period of Analytical Cubism and Synthetic Cubism.
The relationship between the two painters became a little strained when Braque made his first papier collé in Sorgues: Compotier et verre, 1912, oil and sand on canvas (50 × 65 cm), private collection, the first papier collé under this title, followed by a large number of other papier collés that gradually led to synthetic cubism.
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Synthetic Cubism (1912 to 1917-1918)
The exact division between the analytical period and the synthetic period varies according to biographers. Some include in this period the collaged papers from Compotier et verre (1912), which lead to the period of “Braque le vérificateur” where we also find Compotier et cartes (1913), followed by the prolific series of “Machines à voir”: Le Petit Éclaireur (1913). In this period, where Braque was meticulously perfecting his painting, are oil paintings: Violin and Clarinet (1913), Still Life with Pipe (1914), Man with Guitar (1914).
The catalog for the 2013 Georges Braque exhibition at the Grand Palais reserves a separate chapter for the paper collages of 1912 to 1914, from Compotier et verre (1912) to La Bouteille de rhum (1914). Then returns to mixed media on canvas with Compotier et cartes (1913), or Cartes et dé (1914). The collaged papers could be considered as a cubist interlude between “analytical” and “synthetic”.
Among the major works of this period are Violin and Pipe LE QUOTIDIEN (1913-1914), or La Guitare: “Statue d”épouvante” (1913), but above all still lifes when Braque regained his sight after a long period of blindness due to his war injury: La Joueuse de mandoline, 1917 (92 × 65 cm), Musée de Lille métropole), La Musicienne (221.3 × 113 cm, 1917-1918, Kunstmuseum, Basel.
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From 1919 to 1932
While maintaining the rigor of Cubism, Braque moved away from abstraction with still lifes whose motifs are laid down in flat tints, and whose colors become more and more vivid over time. The juxtaposition of different planes, as in Compotier avec grappe de raisin et verre (1919), Musée national d”art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, is done with thick pastes and stiffened lines, which give the impression of measure that is characteristic of Braque. The more the years pass, the more his return to color asserts itself from Guitar and Still Life on the Mantelpiece, 1921, oil on canvas (130.5 × 74.3 cm) Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guitar and Still Life on the Mantelpiece or Guitar and Glass, 1921, oil on canvas (43 × 73 cm), Centre national d”art et de culture Georges-Pompidou, Paris, to burst into increasingly large formats such as: Guitar and a Bottle of Marc on a Table, 1930, oil on canvas (130.5 × 75 cm), Cleveland Museum of Art, Guitar and Bottle of Marc). His favorite themes were fruits, flowers, and objects. He seemed to turn his back on Cubism. With still lifes such as The Large Pedestal Table, also titled The Round Table, 1928-1929, oil and sand on canvas (147 × 114 cm), The Phillips Collection) or The Large Pedestal Table (The Round Table), which some see as a “regression” or others as a “sumptuous advance,” the painter practiced his art in a voluptuous manner, delivering his most sensual works during this period.
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From 1932 to 1944
The dialectic of forms that are at once “naturalistic and abstract” as Christian Zervos defined them, takes on a new breadth with variations on the theme of Le Guéridon begun in 1928: Le Guéridon, oil on canvas (197.7 × 74 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York, of which Braque produced a series from 1936 to 1939, including Le Grand Guéridon, also titled La Table ronde, oil on canvas, The Phillips Collection, which is the most imposing canvas in the series according to Bernard Zurcher, Le Guéridon (SFMOMA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Le Guéridon rouge (begun 1939, revised until 1952, Centre Pompidou). During this period, the artist accumulated notes, sketches, and drawings, which give the deceptive appearance of sketches for future paintings, when in fact they are more a research on the part of a painter in uncertainty. The artist is groping, he is looking for the bottom of things and although each page on graph paper is of great interest for the understanding of his path, they have never been published. To the anguish of the war is added the anxiety of not having any news of his house in Varengeville and the paintings that are deposited there. But after austere works like Fish or The Stove, 1942-1943, Yale University Art Gallery, Large Interior with Palette, 1942 (143 × 195.6 cm), Menil Collection, Houston. It was also during this period that he began sculpting: Hymen, Hesperis, The Little Horse, and the engraved plaster casts, as well as ceramics, before arriving at the Billiards series, considered one of the artist”s major themes.
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From 1944 to 1963
Braque was in Varengeville when the German troops crossed the Maginot Line. First taking refuge in the Limousin at the Lachauds”, then in the Pyrenees, the couple returned to Paris where they spent the entire war in the studio built by Auguste Perret, rue du Douanier . In 1940, the painter produced little. It was only from 1941 onwards that he created two imposing series, austere canvases on the themes of the kitchen and the bathroom: The Kitchen Table with Grill, The Stove, The Toilet with Green Tiles, and the immense Large Interior with Palette. But this austerity will not last. From 1946, with Tournesols, Braque let color burst forth.
The last years of the painter”s life, from the end of the war until the evening of his death, were the most brilliant of his career, according to John Golding . Many English art critics gave a standing ovation to his Billiards series, then the Ateliers series, and also landscapes done in stretched and narrow formats, exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1997, Braque, The Late Works. The exhibition was then presented at the Menil Collection, which published the catalog. In France, little was said about the event, as evidenced by the brief article in L”Express. The last years of the painter are also those of poetry, lithographs illustrating precious books like L”Ordre des Oiseaux (1962) by Saint-John Perse. The major theme of these last years is certainly that of birds, of which the very large Black Birds mark the apotheosis. In spite of its apparent simplicity and its audacity, the series of birds defies description and any attempt at analysis. Braque said :
“To define something is to substitute the definition for the thing. There is only one thing that is really worthwhile in art, and that is what cannot be explained. Braque, Braque”s Notebook, quoted by John Golding .”
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The Jewels of Braque (1961-1963)
“In 1961, increasingly unwell, and unable to work on his paintings for long, Braque agreed to take over drawings to be used as models for jewelry, especially onyx cameos mounted in rings. He gave one to his wife representing the profile of Hecate Reproduction of Hecate in a brooch, Gouache and reproduction of Hecate in a brooch, and he wore one himself as a signet ring during the last year of his life: The Metamorphosis of Eos, a white bird representing the dawn.”
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Sculptures, tapestries, engraved plasterwork
The last work of the Metamorphoses, is a gouache executed by the painter in 1963 (38 × 33 cm), in homage and as a sign of friendship towards Pablo Picasso, entitled The Blue Birds (homage to Picasso). This work was used after the death of the painter. Executed in tapestry (195 × 255 cm), handmade in 6 copies, by the manufacture Robert Four, it was sold at auction by the house Millon which mentions well “After Georges Braque”. This same gouache was executed as a bronze sculpture with a medallic patina, blue with black shades, produced in 8 copies (58 × 255 cm), and sold at auction at the Cannes auction house and at Millon, Paris.
For forty years, Georges Braque had not had a retrospective in France until the one in 2013-2014, at the Grand Palais. It is a very large exhibition with about 236 references, including drawings, sculptures and photographs. The entire body of work is difficult to bring together in one place, especially since the Grand Palais is still devoting a retrospective of Cartier jewelry from December 4, 2013 to February 6, 2014.
Complementary exhibitions pay tribute to other works by Braque, during this same period 2013-2014. The jewelry from the gouaches created by the artist, from 1961 to 1963, were exhibited at the Georges-Braque Museum in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, from June 29 to September 15, 2013, the artist”s prints and etchings are currently on display at the La Malmaison Art Center in Cannes, from December 4, 2013 to January 26, 2014, the Dieppe Castle-Museum is dedicating an exhibition to Braque”s prints from November 25, 2013 to January 5, 2014.
It is from the double exhibition Braque, the Late Years, 1997, London and Houston, that the English art historian John Golding established a catalog raisonné of Braque”s works. His work was not included in the catalogs raisonnés published by Maeght, which stopped in 1957, to the great indignation of Alex Danchev.
In 2008, a retrospective of 80 works by Braque was held in Vienna at the Bank Austria Kunstforum, an art center located in a former building of Bank Austria, which is the main sponsor.
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: document used as a source for the writing of this article.