The French painter and sculptor Georges Braque is, along with Pablo Picasso, one of the founding fathers of the 20th Century modern art movement of cubism. He is best known for his contribution in developing cubism, and although he never gained as much popularity as his artistic partner, is considered by art historians as a unique voice.
Braque was born in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, France, and was originally destined to become a house decorator in Le Havre – the family trade. He apprenticed under his father during the day, and studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre in the evenings. Upon moving to Paris to continue his apprenticeship, Braque moved onto painting full-time, and choosing to remain there indefinitely.
Braque’s early works were impressionistic, following the techniques of those like Monet and Manet, but soon he was caught up in the new movements of modern art. Fauvism, the unrealistically colorful style of Matisse, became a major influence on Braque’s work, as did the work of Cezanne. By 1909, Braque began working with Pablo Picasso, with whom he shared an interest in light, geometry, and taking painterly techniques of perspective and condensing them into a cube.
Braque and Picasso worked closely together for several years, so much so that it is still easy to mistake a Braque for Picasso and vice versa. A popular tale exists where Picasso admits that he even had a hard time distinguishing whether a painting was his or Braque’s.
The collaboration ended in 1914, when Braque was enlisted into the French Army during World War 1. Braque was wounded during the war, and upon his return turned away from cubism to focus on his own style. Although he maintained a low-profile (comparatively to Picasso), he continued to paint until his death at the ripe age of 81.
Some of his famous works:
Terrace of Hotel Mistral (1907) – The influence of Fauvism – the bright, incongruous colors, is clear here, but as this is the year of the Cezanne retrospective in Paris, perhaps it shows a little of that master impressionist. (picture is copyright - see it HERE)
Woman with a Guitar (1913) – I have heard many people remark what an important Picasso this is. It’s not. It’s a Braque. (picture is copyright - see it HERE)
Le Jour (1929) – Braque is definitely on his own path by this point – but his early influences and his technique create a wildly vivid, highly contrasting piece of work. (picture is copyright - see it HERE)