George Braque

Born: 1882-1963


Georges Braque (May 13, 1882 August 31, 1963) was a major 20th century French painter and sculptor who, along with Pablo Picasso, developed the art movement known as cubism.

Braque was born in France and grew up in Le Havre training to be a house painter and decorator to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. During that time he also studied painting in the evenings at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre from about 1897 to 1899.

Braque completed his apprenticeship in Paris in 1902 and the following year he attended the Acadamie Humbert, also in Paris, and painted there until 1904. It was here that he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia.

His earliest works were impressionistic, but after seeing the work exhibited by the Fauves in 1905 Braque adopted a Fauvist style. The Fauves, (a group that included Henri Matisse and Andre Derain) used brilliant colours and loose structures of forms to capture the most intense emotional response. Braque worked most closely with the artists Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, also from Le Havre, to develop a somewhat more subdued Fauvist style. In 1906, Braque returned home to Le Havre to paint. In May 1907 he successfully exhibited works in the Fauve style in the Salon des Indpendants.

Braque was highly influenced by Paul Cezanne who had died in 1906 and his style began an evolution.Braque's paintings of 1908-1913 began to reflect his new interest in geometry and simultaneous perspective. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects, appearing to question the most standard of artistic conventions. In his village scenes, for example, Braque frequently reduced an architectural structure to a geometric form approximating a cube, yet rendered its shading so that it looked both flat and three-dimensional.

Beginning in 1909, Braque began to work closely with Pablo Picasso who had been developing a similar approach to painting. Both artists produced paintings of neutral colour and complex patterns of faceted form, now called Analytic Cubism. In 1912, they began to experiment with collage and papier collage. Their productive collaboration continued until 1914 when Braque enlisted in the French Army, leaving Paris to fight in the First World War.

Braque was severely wounded in the war, and when he resumed his artistic career in 1917 he moved away from the harsher abstract nature of cubism. Working alone, he developed a more personal style, characterized by brilliant color and textured surfaces and - following his move to the Normandy coast - he reintroduced the human figure. He painted many still life subjects during this time though he still maintained his emphasis on structure.

He continued to work throughout the remainder of his life until he died August 31, 1963, in Paris.