Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Biography

George Braque was on one of the foremost artists of twentieth century modern art. Born in Argenteuil in 1882, he was educated as an interior decorator and house painter. At the turn of the century, he began to take night classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Le Havre. Upon receiving his craftsmanship certificate in 1901, he moved to Paris to study at the Academie Humbert where he met Francis Picabia and Marie Laurencin. Braque's work was exhibited at the Salon des Independents and he had his first show at the Kahnweiler Gallery in 1908. In 1909 Braque began to work closely with Picasso. Together, they developed what is now known as Cubism. In Cubist works objects appear broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form. Rather than depicting his subject matter from one viewpoint, Braque depicts his subject from a multitude of perspectives. In his village scenes, for example, Braque often fragmented the image through the reduction of architectural structures to simplified geometric forms. His use of shading resulted in the work appearing both flat and three-dimensional. He showed this in the painting Houses at l'Estaque . 1912 marked a pivotal moment for Braque when he invented the papier colle, collage, technique that both he and Picasso employed in a number of works that would later become emblems of the modern art movement.

After having served in WWI, Braque suffered from severe wounds and temporary blindness. Thereafter, he and Picasso severed ties and continued down different artistic paths - where Picasso was to seek fame and notoriety, Braque preferred to hone his craft independently. Working alone, he began to move away from the harsh abstraction of Cubism. He developed a more personal style, which is known for the incorporation of vibrant colour, textured surfaces and the re-emergence of the human figure. He equally painted many still life subjects during this period, maintaining the prominence of structure in his practice. This is evident in his 1943 work entitled Blue Guitar, which hangs in the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Braque painted up until his death in 1963. Although he is best known for being a painter, he was also a draughtsman, printer, sculptor and costume designer. His works are held in many of largest and most well-known institutions in the world, including MOMA, The Guggenheim, The Met and the Pompidou.