|Birth Year : 1882
Death Year : 1963
Country : France
Georges Braque, the most representatively French of this century's painters,
was born in Argenteuil. He was the son of a painting contractor who was
also a Sunday painter. He had his first art lessons from his father, from
whom he learned to imitate marble, wood and gilt surfaces in his paintings.
Braque then studied at the school of Fine Arts in Le Havre before going
to Paris, where he studied with Bonnat and discovered African, Egyptian,
and Greek sculpture at the Louvre. Braque was also influenced by the Impressionists
and by his contemporaries, Matisse and
whose Fauve movement he joined in about 1905. Even in this period, his
works showed characteristics of his later styles, for he painted some works
in monochrome, using angles as well as curves, with a flatter, more transparent
pigment than that of his colleagues. By 1907, the architectural influence
of Cezanne had asserted itself and Braque,
with Picasso, founded the Cubist movement.
He began to paint in muted colors and in the geometrical patterns, inverted
perspective, and overlapping volumes associated with Cubism. Picasso
and Braque worked closely together, until the outbreak of World War I,
sometimes producing works so similar that the two artists themselves could
not tell which one had painted a given picture if it had not been immediately
signed. They also cooperated on both the analytical and synthetic stages
of Cubism and on the collages that prevented Cubism from becoming overly
formal: the glued-on material necessitated simplification of style.
Braque was mobilized into the French Army in 1914, and a head wound
he received in 1915 made him temporarily blind so that he could not paint
again until 1917. He began to develop a new and more personal style, using
a brighter palette and freer manner that is less angular and more luminous.
By 1931 he had found a marvelous balance between intelligence and sensitivity,
technique and inspiration. Braque painted a world that combines harmonious
shadings of color, sinuous line, and more rounded form, with the multiple
points of view and inverted space of Cubism. The most ordinary dull colors
became resonant on his canvases: white is translucent; black, full of light.
The resulting landscapes, figure paintings, and still lives, display lucidity,
intellectuality, and restrained emotion. These qualities, as natural to
Braque as his quiet manner, prompted the French government to proclaim
him the "most French of all French artists of his generation."
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