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Georges BRAQUE 13 May 1882 - 31 August 1963

Biography

Georges Braque was a French oil painter, sculptor, engraver and lithographer born in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, a commune suburb in the northwest of Paris. He was the son of a house painter and grew up in Le Havre. He initially apprenticed and qualified as such under his father and grandfather in the family business, but he also studied serious painting in the evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts, in Le Havre, from about 1897 to 1899.
 
In 1900 he moved back to Paris and attended classes in painting and drawing, including at the Académie Humbert. He initially developed an Impressionistic style, successfully selling 6 landscapes during an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants. After being exposed to Fauvist art (principally Henri MATISSE and André Derain) in 1905, Braque began to paint in this brightly coloured, impulsive style. He was also heavily influenced by the innovative work of Paul Cezanne, his art continuing to be dominated by contemplative perspectives on simultaneous perspective for the remainder of his life.
 
Along with Pablo PICASSO, whose breakthrough work Demoiselles d'Avignon (1906-7), which while initially being disconcerting, became inspirational to him. He developed the avant-garde Cubist movement in tandem with Picasso, which explored the dislocation and fragmentation of form. Indeed in the summer of 1911, when Braque and Picasso painted side by side in Céret, in the French Pyrenees, each artist producing paintings that are difficult, sometimes virtually impossible, to distinguish from those of the other. In 1912, they began to experiment with collage and papier collé, being instrumental in creating this new form along with Matisse. His palette became increasingly more restrained, leaning heavily on the use of greens, browns and greys. The evocative properties of light were of great interest to him and this shows throughout his oeuvre.
 
“The things that Picasso and I said to one another during those years will never be said again, and even if they were, no one would understand them anymore. It was like being roped together on a mountain…”
 
WWI interrupted the collaboration and in 1915 Braque enlisted, twice receiving bravery decorations before he suffered a severe head wound which induced temporary blindness and lead to him being trepanned. His recuperation was consequently a long one.
 
After the war Braque`s work diverged sharply from that of Picasso. His style became much less angular and tended toward graceful curves. Working alone, he developed a more personal style, characterized by brilliant color and textured surfaces, mixing sand with his oil paints to produce this texturing. He moved to the Normandy seacoast, and there the human figure reappered in his work. Still life became a major feature of his paintings for the remainder of his long artistic career.
 
He was widely honoured for his artwork throughout his life. He died in Paris in 1963. He was awarded a state funeral, an occasion perhaps ironic given his famous unassuming dedication to his art. He is buried in the church cemetery in Saint-Marguerite-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.

Such is the importance of Braque's work, that he is exhibited in most major museums throughout the world.

other resources:
George Braque online

Related Artists:

Henri MATISSE
Pablo PICASSO