Braque



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The life and work of Braque.

In his life Braque's original movement was impressionistic, but after seeing the work exhibited by the Fauves in 1905 he adopted a Fauvist style. The Fauves, a group that included Henri Matisse and Andre Derain among others, used brilliant colors and loose structures of forms to capture the most intense emotional response. Braque worked most closely with the artists Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who shared his hometown of Le Havre, to develop a somewhat more subdued Fauvist style then in 1906, Braque traveled with Friesz to L'Estaque, to Antwerp, and home to Le Havre to paint. In May 1907, he successfully exhibited works in the Fauve style in the Salon des Indépendants. The same year, that his style began a slow evolution as he came under the strong influence of Paul Cézanne, who died in 1906, and whose works were exhibited in Paris for the first time in a large scale museum-like retrospective in September 1907. The 1907 Cezanne retrospective at the Salon d'Automne greatly impacted the direction that the avant-garde in Paris took, leading to the advent of Cubism.

The paintings of 1908–1913 began to reflect 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, he 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 he called attention to the very nature of visual illusion and artistic representation. Beginning in 1909, he began to work closely with Pablo Picasso who had been developing a similar approach to painting. The invention of Cubism was a joint effort between he and Picasso, then residents of Montmartre, Paris. These artists were the movement's main innovators. After meeting in 1907 they both began working on the development of Cubism in 1908. 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, they worked closely together until the outbreak of World War I in 1914 then Braque enlisted in the French Army, leaving Paris to fight in the First World War.

French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first used the term Cubism, or "bizarre cubiques", in 1908 after seeing a picture by the artist. He described it as 'full of little cubes', after which the term quickly gained wide use although the two creators did not initially adopt it. Art historian Ernst Gombrich described cubism as "the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture - that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas."The Cubist movement spread quickly throughout Paris and Europe.



Book Review

In my travels I found this interesting book about Braque called Georges Braque: A Life (The textlink takes you to Amazon where you can find out more about this book) by Alex Danchev. I liked it because it isn't a, 'stuffy' read! I'm always interested in how artists live their lives and this book goes into some detail. He seemed like such a normal guy! I also found this book review by Henry Berry (A professional reviewer) that I think you might want to read.
Book review by: Henry Berry

With the back matter of three short appendices, lengthy notes, lengthy bibliography, and index starting on page 280, this makes the text less than 300 pages. Danchev's biography on this early modernist artist relates his influence on contemporary artists and on modern art as well as influences on him mostly through Braque's relationships with others. The treatment is not a probing psychological study, nor an aesthetic critique and evaluation; but rather concentrates on aspects of Braque's everyday life--his friendships, his trips, his habits. Braque's long and fertile relationship with Picasso was central to Braque's creativity. Danchev also spends time on Braque's marriage to Marcelle Vorvanne, giving her a mini-biography of her own. Another important relationship for Braque was with Jean Paulhan, one of the editors of "Nouvelle Revue Francaise," who "became [the artist's] greatest tribune and celebrant." Paulhan wrote about Braque's painting, "[I]t is without doubt that his work is at all times strangely complete and sufficient...[with the ultimate] feeling of a delay enjoyed, and an obligation fulfilled." Such observations from others in Braque's life are not only illuminating and stimulating in themselves, but accrue to cast light on the complexities and enigma of Braque--as with any historically significant artist--and his paintings; several of which are shown in color plates. Danchev has written other biographies and is a professor in the School of Politics at the U. of Nottingham.



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