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Biography

Georges Braque was a French painter, graphic artist and sculptor. After an early Fauvist creative phase, Braque was the co-founder of Cubism together with Pablo Picasso.

Braque made the acquaintance of Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet and André Derain, who exhibited Fauvist works, through an exhibition at the XXII Salon des Indépendants in March and April in 1906, where he showed seven paintings (all of which were later destroyed). Braque was influenced by the style of these artists called "Fauves" (French for savages) and devoted himself increasingly to this direction. He worked closely with Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who also lived in Le Havre.

At the end of November/beginning of December 1907, Guillaume Apollinaire accompanied Braque to Picasso's studio in the Bateau-Lavoir, 13 Rue Ravignan. This was probably Braque's first visit, but perhaps the first contacts had already taken place in spring, during the Indépendants. It was here that Braque first saw the painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York), which was completed in the summer of 1907, and the painting Three Women (Hermitage of Saint Petersburg), which had not been finished yet. Impressed by this visit, Braque also worked on figurative compositions in December and began a large painting entitled Woman (whereabouts unknown; probably lost or destroyed). Picasso's studio now formed the place where not only Picasso's works - such as nudes with clothing - but also Braque's works were discussed. Thus, Braque was also visited by Picasso in his roof studio in the Rue d'Orsel, especially since the Bateau-Lavoir was only a few hundred metres away.

At the beginning of 1908 Braque worked on another figurative motif, the Large Nude (oil on canvas, 140 × 100 cm, Ales Maguy Collection, Paris). At the XXIV Salon des Indépendants - Picasso never showed his works at the Salon - Braque exhibited four other works in addition to the painting Frau (which is not mentioned in the catalogue). Picasso told his girlfriend Fernande Olivier that Braque had "secretly painted a large picture with a cubist construction" without revealing to anyone the "source of his inspiration". Thus Picasso had only abandoned his reservations about Braque in the autumn of 1908, whom he had previously suspected of wanting to exploit his works and ideas without naming their originators.

In the summer of 1908, Braque returned to L'Estaque and painted a series of Cubist landscapes, of which Street at L'Estaque (Museum of Modern Art, New York) is the best known. Picasso, who spent the summer in Val-d'Oise and also painted landscapes, arrived, completely independently, at very similar painterly results: "...a concise pictorial language of facetted forms, multi-vision of objects and withdrawal of colour for the sake of form.

In the spring of 1910, Braque painted the first oval cubist painting, Woman with Mandolin, whereupon Picasso also painted an oval picture with the same subject. In the following twelve months, both in L'Estaque and in Paris, he painted further still lifes, some of them in oval form. At the beginning of September 1910, Kahnweiler sent four paintings by Braque and three paintings by Picasso on loan to an exhibition of both artists at the Thannhauser Gallery in Munich.

From around 1911 Braque lived together with Marcelle Laprè, with whom he moved into a shared apartment at Impasse de Guelma 5 in January 1912. In literature, she has been referred to as "Marcelle Braque" since 1912; in fact, the couple did not marry until 1925. Marcelle Laprè (1879-1965) was to become his lifelong companion. Braque and Picasso spent a few weeks in the summer of 1911 in the small town of Céret in southern France. Here they continued their intensive exchange that they had begun in Paris, and the period of the most productive collaboration between the two artists began. While Braque painted the man with guitar, Picasso answered with the congenial accordionist. In the still lifes Candlestick (Braque) and Still Life with Fan (Picasso), both artists incorporated the title of the daily newspaper L'Indépendant, written in Gothic type, into their motifs. Picasso returned to Paris in early September, Braque remained in Céret until January 1912, but he corresponded frequently with Picasso. The first paper sculptures of Braque are also dated in this period, which earned him the nickname Wilbur Wright (after the designer of biplane planes) from Picasso.

Braque returned from Céret with the painting Homage to J. S. Bach, in which he used pochoir letters for the first time. At the same time, he added a naturalistically painted wood grain to the motif. In Paris he painted the round still life Soda and Man with Violin. At the end of April Braque travelled together with Picasso for a few days to his home town Le Havre, a visit that inspired Picasso to paint Souvenir du Havre. At the beginning of August, Braque and Marcelle left for Sorgues (sur-l'Ouvèze), a small town north of Avignon, where they moved into a small villa and where Braque continued to work on his paper sculptures. For the first time, he also mixed sand into his painting pigments. In Sorgues they met Picasso, who had rented a room in the neighbourhood with his girlfriend Eva Gouel. Inspired by his paper sculptures, he created his first Papiers collés in mid-September, works in which he used imitation wood paper and later newspaper cuttings as compositional elements. Picasso immediately took up Braque's "invention" and also used music paper and wallpaper patterns in his compositions. The paper collés, with their two-dimensional appearance and increasing colourfulness, ushered in the transition to Synthetic Cubism.

In winter and spring 1914 both artists worked again in Paris. The titles of the works indicate the close contact: Still Life with Ace of Hearts (Braque) and Wine Glass with Ace of Clubs (Picasso). In June, Braque set off on a bicycle tour to the summer house in Sorgues. Picasso and André Derain were already waiting for him there. Picasso had moved into a house with Eva in the neighbouring Avignon. After Austria's declaration of war on Serbia, Braque and Derain were called up for military service. As a Spaniard, Picasso was not liable to military service.

On August 2, 1914, both painters were taken to the train station in Avignon by Picasso. Picasso later said (albeit metaphorically) that he had never seen Braque again since then. In December 1914 Alfred Stieglitz's Gallery 291 in New York showed twenty paintings by Braque and Picasso from the collection of Francis Picabia.

In 1915 Braque was seriously wounded on the head during a frontal attack. After a long convalescence in Sorgues, he returned to Paris in the spring of 1917 and frequently met Juan Gris and the sculptor Henri Laurens. He no longer had any personal contact with Picasso. He distanced himself from Cubism and developed his own style, in which he mainly painted still lifes. In 1922 Braque was invited to participate in the exhibition of the Salon d'Automne in a room of his own. He sold all 18 exhibited works.

In 1930 he built a country house on the seaside of Varengeville-sur-Mer (near Dieppe). In the 1930s and 1940s Braque painted motifs in which figure and space (The Painting Woman, 1936) and space and interior (The Billiard Table, 1945) interpenetrated. In his studio paintings, created in 1946, Braque used a large white bird, which was originally the motif of a painting that Braque destroyed. From 1947 on he worked together with the lithographer Fernand Mourlot in Paris, who, since then, has printed his lithographs. In 1948 Maeght in Paris published the lithography suite Cahier de Georges Braque. In 1951 he was accepted as an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two years later he received the commission to execute a ceiling painting for the Etruscan Gallery in the Louvre. In 1954 Braque created a deep blue stained-glass window representing the family tree of Christ for the choir of the Saint-Valery church in Varengeville and seven figurative stained-glass windows for the Saint-Dominique chapel in the same village. In 1958 he was awarded an international Antonio Feltrinelli Prize and one year later he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For the Fondation Maeght near Saint-Paul-de-Vence which opened in 1964, he created a water basin and a stained-glass window in the chapel belonging to it.

The artist died in his apartment on 31 August 1963 in Paris. His burial place is in the cemetery of Varengeville-sur-Mer in the Normandy.

Georges Braque was a participant in documenta 1 (1955), documenta II (1959) and (posthumously) documenta III in 1964 in Kassel.