Some of Georges Braque’s paintings can confuse us with paintings of Pablo Picasso. The close collaboration between the two brilliant artists meant that they influenced each other and painted very similiarly for a while. Together they founded the new art movement – Cubism.
However, Braque’s long painting career, continues well beyond that period . Apart from painting, Braque also worked with other mediums, including sculpting & creating lithographs. He even created a stained glass window.
“Art is made to disturb, science reassures”
George Braque Quotes
Early Years & The Move to Paris
Georges Braque (1882-1963) was born in a small town called Argenteuil. Both his father and grandfather, were amateur artists who managed a successful decorative painting business. The family business exposed Braque to many different painting styles and techniques. Young Braque showed artistic talent and his interest in art at an early age.
At the age of 17, Braque decided to move to Paris. He felt that in order to pursue a career in painting, he must be around other painters and expose himself to the different art styles out there. Like other young artists, he wanted to be part of the exciting and vibrant Paris art world.
The Influence of the Impressionists & Post-Impressionists
During the first few years in Paris, Braque focused his attention on the paintings of the impressionists and post-impressionists. In particular, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Edouard Manet influenced his early style. It was during this period that he developed his painting skills that would set the foundation for his later artworks in Fauvism and Cubism.
Georges Braque Paintings and Fauvism
Around 1905, Braque participates in various exhibitions and meets the Fauve painters Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. Their fauvism paintings grab Braque’s attention. He greatly admires their use of intensely bright and non-naturalistic colors. Braque embraces this exciting avant-garde style and creates some beautiful Fauvism paintings himself marked by increased freedom in color expression.
The Influence of Cezanne on Braque
Braque learned from Cezanne the concept of deconstruction of an object which had until then been subject to classical rules of representation. The object according to Cezanne could be transformed into geometric facets and planes.
Translating this new concept into practice, Braque during this trip moves away from fauvism art and starts dabbling in a new style showing strong cubism elements.
“Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry” George Braque Quotes
Picasso & Braque Team Up Together and Develop Cubism
In 1907 Braque visit’s Picasso‘s studio and views Picasso’s ground-breaking artworks. An instant friendship is struck between the two that will lead to a creation of groundbreaking art!
From this point on, the two painters start meeting daily, working closely together and sharing artistic ideas.
During this artistic liaison, Georges Braque drastically changes his painting style. The two artists together start exploring subject matter broken down into individual elements, and made up of cubes and other geometrical shapes.
They aimed to create a new way of viewing the world around them, reflecting the modern age. This in fact was the start of a new modern art movement of which they were the founders – Cubism.
World War One broke out in 1914 and Braque joined the French army. He sustained a serious head injury during the war and it took him over two years to recover.
When Braque returns from the war, he sees that Picasso is now painting in a figurative style. Braque feels betrayed by Picasso’s break away from Cubism. They go their separate ways.
Braque continues to paint using the Cubism style and further explores the use of collage. In fact, many of Georges Braque’s cubism paintings incorporate collage as well. He continues to create using this style for many years.
Working alone, Braque’s harsh cubism paintings begin to soften. He starts adding more color and textured surfaces.
Braque relocates to the small seaside town called Varengeville-sur-Mer in Normandy and his painting style changes again. He starts painting still life canvases of fruit, musical instruments and cooking utensils. He breaks away from Cubism entirely.
Braque’s Sculpting Years
In his later years, Georges Braque starts working on a series called Metamorphoses. His idea was to transform past artworks into three dimensional artworks. He first makes sketches of roughly a hundred of his major artworks. He then transforms them into three dimensional sculptures.
Georges Braque dies on 31 August 1963 in Paris. He is buried however in the cemetery of the Church of St. Valery in Varengeville-sur-Mer in Normandy. If you visit this area, pop into the church and admire the beautiful stained-glass windows that Braque designed and visit his grave in the church cemetery.
Where to View Georges Braque Paintings & Artworks
As befits one of the greatest 20th century modern painters, Braque’s artworks hang in the most esteemed art museums in Europe and all around the world.
In France you can view beautiful Georges Braque paintings & artworks in the following museums:
In Paris, pop into:
- Musée National d’Art Moderne (Center Pompidou)
- Louvre – In 1953, the Louvre commissioned 70 year old Braque to paint three panels in the ceiling of the Salle Henri II room. His two-dimensional birds created a public uproar. However, despite the reaction, this commission was an absolute honor. Braque was a the first living artist to have an exhibit in the Louvre. (Picasso, his friend and artistic rival was pea-green with envy!!)
To follow Braque’s footsteps, go visit the following places:
- Eglise Saint Valery Church in Varengeville-sur-Mer, Normandy. Inside you will see the beautiful stained-glass window that Braque designed. And in the cemetery next to the church, you can visit his grave
- L’Estaque Painter’s Walking Trail – ‘Chemin des Peintres‘ – this trail follows the footsteps of Renoir, Cézanne, Dufy and Braque around the port and the old town of L’Estaque, Marsailles.