Georges Braque

“I’ve always hated official painting – I still feel very strongly about that.”  (1954)

French artist Georges Braque worked in diverse media, from painting to sculpture to collage.  He is of vital importance to the development of modern art in the twentieth century, having started the movement of Cubism along with Pablo Picasso.

Born in the small town of Argenteuil-sur-Seine, Braque spent a significant portion of his childhood in Le Havre, where his family lived from 1890 onwards.  Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Braque started training in painting and decoration before leaving for Paris in 1900 where he studied at the Académie Humbert, all the while continuing his apprenticeship.

After seeing the works of Matisse and Derain at the 1905 Salon d’Automne, Braque became an adherent of the Fauves and their bright colours and, two years later, exhibited with them at the Salon des Indépendants.  That same year, his art radically changed direction after seeing a retrospective exhibition of Cézanne’s work and meeting Picasso.  Spending the summer at the shore town of L’Estaque, and inspired by his close examination of Cézanne’s work, he created paintings which are now considered to be the first Cubist artworks.  From 1909 until 1914, he worked in close collaboration with Picasso, developing Cubism. In the following years, Braque’s paintings and prints would focus mainly on everyday objects (The Glass of Absinthe, c.1910-1911), and bohemian surroundings such as the interiors of his favorite bars (Fox, 1911-1912).  He pushed Cubism into media other than paint, creating what is considered the first Cubist collage work in 1912.  

In 1915, Braque was seriously wounded while serving on the front lines during the First World War.  After his convalescence, he returned to art, though his work became detached from Cubism and increasingly figurative, treating themes such as ateliers, landscapes and birds.  In 1952-53, Braque was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Etruscan gallery at the Musée du Louvre, his last large-scale commission.

© 1949 Yousuf Karsh