http://www.martinries.com/article1995GB.htm
http://www.artic.edu/sites/default/files/libraries/pubs/1972/AIC1972Braque_comb.pdf
http://www.artesmagazine.com/2013/07/the-phillips-collection-washington-d-c-with-georges-braque-mid-career-still-life-paintings/
 
“Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swan? For they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more lustily than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are going to the god they serve.” – Socrates, Phaedo, 85.
“Leur vol est connaissance, l’espace est leur aliénation.” [Their flight is knowledge, space is their alienation.] – St. John Perse, Birds.
“Il n’est en art qu’une chose qui vaille: Celle que l’on ne peut expliquer.”
[In art there is only one thing that matters: what cannot be explained.]
Braque with Studio IV

Braque with Studio IV

Georges Braque was guided from a young age toward creative painting techniques. His father managed a decorative painting business and Braque’s interest in texture and tactility perhaps came from working with him as a decorator.
In 1899, at age seventeen, Braque moved from Argenteuil into Paris, accompanied by friends Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy.
Braque’s earliest paintings were made in the Fauvist style. From 1902-1905, after giving up work as a decorator to pursue painting full-time he pursued Fauvist ideas and coordinated with Henri Matisse.
He contributed his Fauvist colorful paintings to his first exhibition at the Salon des Independants in 1906.
However, he was extremely affected by a visit to Pablo Picasso’s studio in 1907, to see Picasso’s breakthrough work – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
After this encounter, the two artists forged an intimate friendship and artistic camaraderie.
Braque at Fontainebleau

Braque at Fontainebleau

“We would get together every single day,” Braque said, “to discuss and assay the ideas that were forming, as well as to compare our respective works”.
The drastic change in Braque’s painting style can be directly attributed to Picasso. Once he understood Picasso’s goals, Braque aimed to strengthen “the constructive elements in his works while foregoing the expressive excesses of Fauvism”.
His landscape paintings in which scenes were distilled into basic shapes and colors inspired French art critic, Louis Vauxcelles, to coin the term Cubism by describing Braque’s work as “bizarreries cubiques.”
Braque and Picasso worked in synchronicity until Braque’s return from war in 1914. When Picasso began to paint figuratively, Braque felt his friend had betrayed their Cubist systems and rules, and continued on his own.
However, he continued to remain influenced by Picasso’s work, especially in regards to papier colles, a collage technique pioneered by both artists using only pasted paper.
george-braque
Viewers noted a more limited palette at Braque’s first post-war solo show in 1919. Yet he steadfastly adhered to Cubist rules about depicting objects from multi-faceted perspectives in geometrically patterned ways.
In this, he continued as a true Analytical Cubist longer than did Picasso, whose style, subject matter and palettes changed continuously.
Braque was most interested in showing how objects look when viewed over time in different temporal spaces and pictorial planes.
As a result of his dedication to depicting space in various ways, he naturally gravitated towards designing sets and costumes for theater and ballet performances, doing this throughout the 1920s.
In 1929, Braque took up landscape painting once again, using new, bright colors influenced by Picasso and Matisse.
Then in the 1930s, Braque began to portray Greek heroes and deities, though he claimed the subjects were stripped of their symbolism and ought to be viewed through a purely formal lens.
He called these works exercises in calligraphy, possibly because they were not strictly about figures but more about sheer line and shape.
In the latter half of the 1930s, Braque embarked on painting his Vanitas series, through which he existentially considered death and suffering.
Growing increasingly obsessed with the physicality of his paintings, he explored the ways in which brushstrokes and paint qualities could enhance his subject matter.
During the 1930s, as Braque experimented with a more colorful palette, he used black ground less frequently, but he returned to it in the 1940s.
The Washstand and Pewter Pot and Plate of Fruit, both from 1944, are examples of later works in which the artist-prepared black ground were applied to the bare canvases.
The grounds are characteristically matte, textured with sand, and visible throughout the composition. On both canvases, the ground layer paint was fluid when applied, as evidenced by drips on the tacking edges.
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His final series of eight canvases made from 1948-1955, each titled Atelier, or Studio, depicted imagery that represented the artist’s inner thoughts on each object rather than clues to the outside world.
In the summer of 1955 Braque visited the bird sanctuary in Camargue where the saline marshes in the delta of the Rhine provide rich plant food for exotic birds; this stimulated his imagination for birds or at least confirmed his fascination for them. Braque and the poet St. John Perse were brought together in 1961 by a mutual friend at the artist’s request, and he suggested they do something about birds.
The artist greatly admired Seamarks, Perse’s poem praising the sea as a majestic symbol enclosing the beginning and ending of life, and chose as epigram, “L’oiseau plus vaste sur son erre voit l’homme libre de son ombre, a la limite de son bien” [the bird, vast as its circle, sees man free of his shadow, at the limit of his weal].
At the very end of his life, Braque painted birds repeatedly, as the perfect symbol of his obsession with space and movement.
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In Atelier II the disorder of the studio is in flux with a plethora of real objects and invented shapes which metaphorically interpenetrate.
The bird is woven into an intricate enclosure of descending vertical lines, suggesting Mallarmé’s pli selon pli [phase over phase], as it traverses through light beams that descend from the skylight like the rays of the spectrum in Bernini’s Gloria or The Ecstasy of St. Theresa.
The bird acquires color and iridescence as it flies toward the cross-shaped easel, countering the movement of the arrow below; the bust (probably Hesperis,
which Braque sculpted in 1939/40) is also looking right, along with the large white arrow which prevents the bird’s movement from reigning over the composition.

 

the Studio II

the Studio II

 

The bird is in full flight in Atelier IV, its orbed wings suggest the artist’s palette as it approaches the easel.
The converging lines no longer suggest rays of light; perhaps the fractured lines represent the flight of the bird through curtains, or past window mullions and wainscotting, or even picture rails, mahl stick, and the display easel Braque often used to show his work.
But these linear areas play an important role in the spatial structure of the picture which depends on an elaborate play of verticals and diagonals helped by lines of direction.
The bird and easel dominate as the brushes in the vase point upward to the bird, while the brushes in the palette point horizontally toward the Mozarabic decoration.

at iv

the Studio IV

studio V

studio V

Braque believed that an artist experienced beauty “… in terms of volume, of line, of mass, of weight, and through that beauty [he] interpret[s] [his] subjective impression…”
He described “objects shattered into fragments… [as] a way of getting closest to the object…Fragmentation helped me to establish space and movement in space”.
Braque had adopted a monochromatic and neutral color palette in his earlier works, in the belief that such a palette would emphasize the subject matter.
These later paintings embody a form-in-color, as if muted by cool, gauzy Normandy coastal light; edges sharpened; objects occupying equal visual weight in the composition; with sensations heightened, as his complex structure of form, line and color invite the eye to move in an endless course through the composition, in search of a resting point.
One important element in many of Braque’s paintings—adding to their perceived depth and approachability—is his technique for applying a ground layer to the canvas before beginning to paint.
These were of two types: white and black. White ground, a highly textured material recalling stucco or fresco, was applied methodically.
“I prepare the ground of my canvases with the utmost care, for it is the ground that supports the entire picture, like the foundation of a house.”

About half of the paintings in the exhibition were prepared with either white or black ground. Black ground added a sense of depth and atmosphere, as their matte, unsaturated surfaces highlighted the flatness of the picture plane. Fine grains of variegated sand, both sparsely mixed with paint and scattered on top, further emphasized the materiality of the surface.

The artist rarely covered the entire undersurface of his painting, allowing portions of his work to become part of the finished composition.

The black ground is incorporated into The Napkin Ring (1929), serving as the base color for the blue and green veins of the marbled background and as the color of the table, otherwise defined only by an outline of yellow paint.

The lines are usually masculine but only when you are sure they are feminin, it’s the masculine part – we know that sometimes even them have feminin features, right? -.

Objects are from the same material . Even if they are fruits or simple objects, they look alike. They form the same structure.

Napkin ring (1929)

Napkin ring (1929)

Lemons and Napkin King (1928)

Lemons and Napkin King (1928)