Georges Braque

(1882—1963) French painter

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French painter who, with Picasso, developed cubism. He was made a Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur in 1951.

After training as a decorator in Le Havre, Braque studied art in Paris and began painting in the new fauvist style. However, he was temperamentally unsuited to the subjective and often impulsive style of the fauvists and, impressed by the Cézanne memorial exhibition of 1907, began to paint in a style influenced by Cézanne's geometrical simplification of forms. In the same year Braque's meeting with Picasso led to a close working relationship that lasted until World War I.

In 1909 Braque's pictures were criticized as ‘bizarreries cubiques’ (‘cubic oddities’); the name stuck and cubism was born. Developed by Braque and Picasso together over the next five years, cubism was probably the most revolutionary force in painting since the Renaissance: it freed artists from the restriction of representing objects at a fixed moment in time and from a fixed viewpoint, which had dominated painting since the fifteenth century. No longer pretending to be windows onto the visual world, these analytical cubist paintings instead depicted different aspects and views of a motif.

In 1911 Braque originated the use of collage, which opened the way for the second phase of cubism – synthetic cubism, in which the artist's materials replaced analysis of form as the starting point for the creation of flat nonillusionistic compositions.

The outbreak of war in 1914 interrupted the fertile partnership between Braque and Picasso. The following year Braque was severely wounded and in 1916 was discharged from the army. Back in Paris he continued painting, gradually introducing brighter colours and a more naturalistic approach to his work, which still remained basically cubist. He painted domestic subjects and nudes and became a master of still life. He produced ceramics, graphics, sculpture, and illustrations and decorated a ceiling in the Louvre. In 1948 Braque received the Grand Prix for painting at the Venice Biennale.

Subjects: Art.