Born in Argenteuil, Val-d'Oise on May 13, 1882 in the wake of Impressionism, Georges Braque grew up in Le Havre and spent half of his life on the Normandy coast. His father and grandfather had been decorators and house painters, and Georges Braque trained as one as well. He enjoyed learned tricks and techniques that enables him to produce cheap imitations of gilt, marble, and expensive woods. Meanwhile, he studied more advanced artwork in the evenings at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. On Sundays in his youth, we would pass the time paintings landscapes and portraits of his family, most specifically his grandmother and cousin. In 1900, when Braque was 17, he left for Paris to be an apprentice to a decorator, and attended Academie Humbert, where he painted until 1904.
Braque's earliest works were impressionistic, but in 1905, after seeing an exhibition of Fauvist paintings (including works by Henri Matisse) Braque altered his style to include more brilliant colors and loose forms to invoke a greater emotional response. Between 1906 and 1910 Braque's subject matter also changed some more. Landscapes, which had previously predominated his artwork, had thinned out by 1908 and his attention had turned to still-lifes.
Braque used a model for his artwork called 'Curved Space'. At first the curvature of the planes fulfilled a specific purpose: for a 3D image to look as realistic as possible while restricted to a 2-D space. Braque experimented with painting the entirety of an image in 2-D space. However, he could not do so while respecting the traditional rules of perspective. Each plane revealed every viewpoint, and this opened up new opportunities for painting. The picture showed its 'hidden face' as clearly as if the viewer were walking around it. In Musical Instruments
from 1908, for example, Braque folds over the back of the lute and reverses the hidden side of the peg box. It was the start of a process of dis-juncture that was also used in Braque's famous Fruit Dish painting from 1908 (see below).
Braque, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art movement known as Cubism, which uses similar techniques to those described above along with an emphasis on geometric shapes. While their friendship had many ups and downs, there existed a bond that enabled Braque and Picasso to exchange discoveries and pool their results; in short to offer mutual support at a crucial time – the birth of modern art – in which they played an important role. In 1912, Braque and Picasso experimented with 'papiers colles' which is similar to a carefully and intricately created collage. It consisted of cutting and gluing together many pieces of paper (usually wood patterned) and juxtaposing the colored paper. One example of Braque's papiers colles is Musical Shapes: Guitar and Clarinet (1918).
In 1914, Braque enrolled in the French Army and was severely wounded in World War One. He returned and continued painting, although relaxed his Cubism style and focused on works that included human figures. As surrealism emerged, he incorporated a little of it into his work, but did not embrace the style as much as he had Cubism. Picasso continued to adopt new styles and his popularity outgrew Braque. Braque died on August 31, 1963.
I choose to research Georges Braque because I noticed his paintings while flipping through some books and I liked his chaotic style. The first painting by him was Studio 3 (1949-1951) (below) and the collection of styles and shapes confused my mind. Some aspects of the painting seem so realistic, while others seemed abstract. I enjoyed the emotional response the painting invoked so I decided to investigate more about his work.
(1982) Braque: the Papiers Colles. Washington DC: National Museum of Art.
(2005) Braque and Laurens: A Dialoque. Paris, France.
Messensee, Caroline. (2006) Georges Braque: La Poeticque de l'objet. Paris, France: Skira.
Zurcher, Bernard. Translated by Simon Nye. Georges Braque: Life and Work. New York, New York: Rizzoli.