Braque Essay, Research Paper

Although George Braque (May 13, 1882

- Aug. 31, 1963) was one of the most influential painters of the twentieth

century his name is all but forgotten. He has received little credit for his

efforts towards the creation of analytic cubism. Many art historians believe

that his prestigious role as father of analytic cubism was cut short because of

Picasso?s fame. Many arguments have arisen asking the question: ?Who is the

father of cubism?? There is no doubt that Picasso started the spark which

ignited modern art movements with the creation of ?Les Demoiselles d?Avignon..?

But, soon after Picasso created this work Braque created ?Houses at

L?Estaque.? This painting started the analytic phase of cubism. With this in

mind, it can be stated that Picasso is the father of modern twentieth century

art and Braque is the father of analytic cubism. George Braque is one of the

most influential painters of the twentieth century. He co-worked with Picasso to

create cubism and helped spark all the future art movements of the twentieth

century. As well as this, he was the influence that made Picasso the fame that

he was to become. Braque has never received the recognition he should have

because of Picasso?s fame, but his personal position in the art community was

high and his involvement with World War One was a major culprits that aided in

his downfall in artistic popularity. ?Who the father of cubism??, has always

been a question that has pondered the minds of art historians and scholars. It

is clear though that both Braque and Picasso played their prominent role in the

creation of cubism. Picasso provided, with his proto-Cubist

"Demoiselles," the initial liberating shock. But it was Braque,

largely because of his admiration for Cezanne, who provided much of the early

tendency toward geometrical forms. Braque?s early tendency towards geometric

form and cubes was the spark which ignited the minds of all future cubist

artists; including Picasso. If there is one painting that is possibly one of the

most influential images regarding cubism in the twenty first century it is

George Braque?s ?Houses at L?Estaque.? During the summer of 1908 in

southern France, Braque painted a series of radically innovative canvases, of

which the most celebrated is ?Houses at L?Estaque?; in this painting we

can see the slab volumes, sober coloring, and warped perspective typical of the

first part of what has been called the analytical phase of Cubism. This painting

was shown in a show at Kahnweiler’s gallery. It provoked from the Paris critic

Louis Vauxcelles a remark about "cubes" that soon blossomed into a

stylistic label. This painting was the painting that gave cubism its name.

Vauxcelles?s remarked about the canvas being full of small cubes, and this

comment was the spark that constituted the name of the movement. Braque

undertook Vauxcelles criticisms, much like other movements of the past, and used

it for the name of the movement. ( Flam, 144) In ?Houses at L’Estaque? all

the sensuous elements of Braque’s previous years were banished. Color has been

reduced to a severe combination of browns, dull greens and grays. The curving

rhythms have given way to a system of vertical and horizontal, broken only by

the forty-five degree diagonals of roof-tops and trees. All details have been

eliminated and the foliage of the trees reduced to a minimum to reveal the

geometric severity of the houses. These are continued upwards almost to the top

of the canvas so that the eye is allowed no escape beyond them. The picture

plane is further emphasized by the complete lack of aerial perspective (the far

houses are, if anything, darker and stronger in value than the foreground

house), and by the fact that occasionally contours are broken and forms opened

up into each other. There is no central vanishing point; indeed in many of the

houses all the canons of traditional perspective are completely broken. (Flam

145) Although Braque was the first to create a cubist work, it is well known

that cubism was a combined team effort that was created through the genius

partnership of both Braque and Picasso. It is impossible to say which of the two

was the principal stylistic inventor of the revolutionary new style, for at the

height of their collaboration they exchanged ideas almost daily and produced

pictures so alike as to be practically indistinguishable. Examples of these

similarities are the various nude pictures of women that both Picasso and Braque

created during the first years of analytic cubism. If we compare George

Braque?s ?Large Nude?, to Picasso?s Three women; it is easy to see that

they must have collaborated many ideas and exchanged critical analysis of each

others work constantly. The images in these two paintings look like they were

created in almost exactly the same format by the same person. It can be stated

that George Braque and Pablo Picasso were basically the same person for those

first years of analytic cubism. (Arnason, 189) By 1912 Braque, with the

assistance and inspirations of Picasso, created a definitive definition of

analytic cubism. This newly created definition was created through months of

trial and error and monumental discussions with Picasso. This Cubist style

emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the

traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modeling, and chiaroscuro

and refuting time-honored theories of art as the imitation of nature. Cubist

painters were not bound to copying form, texture, color, and space; instead,

they presented a new reality in paintings that depicted radically fragmented

objects, whose several sides were seen simultaneously. (Brenson, C1) If there is

one aspect of Braque?s life that is confusing, it is why he has not received

the recognition for his works the way that Picasso has. Braque was just as much,

if not more, the creator of analytic cubism. He worked alongside Picasso in

developing all aspects of cubism from day one until the beginning of World War

One. The only reason why Braque?s name is not remembered as well as

Picasso?s is because of his enlistment to fight in World War One. This event

was the turning point of his career. The events which conspired during WWI and

the years that followed boosted Picasso?s Popularity while diminished

Braque?s.(Frank,18) At this point in history, 1914, Braque left the art scene

to fight in the war. He entered the army as an infantry sergeant and served with

distinction, being decorated twice in 1914 for bravery. In 1915 he suffered a

serious head wound, which was followed by a trepanation, several months in the

hospital, and a long period of convalescence at home at Sorgues. During this

period he added to the aphorisms he had been in the habit of scribbling on the

margins of drawings, and in 1917 a collection of these sayings, put together by

his friend the poet Pierre Reverdy, was published in the review Nord-Sud as

"Thoughts and Reflections on Painting." Even a brief sampling can

suggest the quality, at once poetic and rational, of Braque’s mind and the sort

of thinking that lay behind Cubism: New means, new subjects. . . . The aim is

not to reconstitute an anecdotal fact, but to constitute a pictorial fact. . . .

To work from nature is to improvise. . . . The senses deform, the mind forms. .

. . I love the rule that corrects emotion. (Braque) Released from further

military service, the artist rejoined the Cubist movement, which by then was in

what is sometimes called its synthetic phase–a not very adequate way of

referring to a tendency to use more color and to represent objects not by the

previous spider web of analytical signs but by relatively large emblematic

planes. (Frank, 18) Rapidly, however, he moved away from austere geometry toward

forms softened by looser drawing and freer brushwork; an example of the change

is the 1919 "Still Life with Playing Cards." From this point onward

his style ceased to evolve in the methodical way it had during the successive

phases of Cubism; it became a series of personal variations on the stylistic

heritage of the eventful years before World War I. This change in Braque?s

style, and his with drawl from cubism during the war ( 1914-1918 ) were the

major contributors to his loss of fame. Before the war the two artist, Braque

and Picasso, were considered equals in every aspect of painting. But, Braque

left the art scene for four years and Picasso used this time to accelerate his

career ahead of Braque. Braque?s name was all but forgotten due to this

absence. George Braque, through his creation of ?Houses L?Estaque? set the

standards for analytic cubism. He is the father of analytic cubism, but this is

a title that the general public has no recollection of. Picasso took the title

away from Braque when he was leading the movement during World War One. George

Braque was out of the art scene for to long to ever recover his role as the

prominent figure of cubism. ( John, 31) Braque, along side Picasso, can be

credited with sparking the creations of various artistic styles with their

creation of the new visual language of cubism. His visual language of cubism was

adopted and further developed by numerous painters which followed his lead. Such

painters are Fernand L??ger, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Juan Gris, Roger de la

Fresnaye, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger. Though primarily a

style associated with painting, Cubism also exerted a profound influence on

20th-century sculpture and architecture. Chief among the sculptors who worked in

this style are Alexander Archipenko, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, and Jacques

Lipchitz. The adoption of the Cubist aesthetic by the architect Le Corbusier is

reflected in the shapes of the houses he designed during the 1920s. The cubist

style that was created by Braque and Picasso was a fundamental foundation for

the future generations of modernist painters. This style was an essential

building block in modern art. George Braque, along with Picasso are the two most

influential artists of the twenty first century. (Flam, 144) ?Who is the

father of cubism?? Well I would have to agree that Both Picasso and Braque put

their efforts together when creating cubism, but Braque was the first to create

an analytic work: ?House at L?Estaque.? They are both leaders of cubism,

but Braque was the first to create a cubist work, so he should receive the title

of father of cubism. These two leaders of cubism are the two most influential

painters of the twentieth century. Braque and Picasso both were the foundation

artists who started an aspect of all the future art movements of the twentieth

century. (Golding 144) Braque has never received the recognition he should have

because of Picasso?s fame, but by examining his life story and understanding

the circumstances involved during his life we can see that he has been

disregarded as the prominent figure that he is. Braque?s ?House at

L?Estaque? is the painting that sparked the start of analytic cubism and

that painting is one of the turning points in art. Although Picasso became the

father of modern art with his ?Les Demoiselles d?Avignon?, Braque is the

father of cubism because he created the first analytic work. Braque has never

received the recognition he deserves, and it coincides well with a quote that

Braque stated himself: ?In art there is only one thing that counts: the thing

you can’t explain.? George Braque

1) Brenson, M. ?Picasso and Braque, Brothers in Cubism.?

New York Times. 91/22/89, p C1

2) Clark, Michael. ?Braque- George ( back to basics).?

Times Educational Supplement. 1/31/97. Issue 4205, p.10

3) Flam, J. ?Cubiquitous.? Art News. Dec 89, p 144

4) George Braque, Illustrated Notebook, 1971-1975. Ed S.

Applebaun, Dover, NY

5) Golding, J. ?Two who made a Revolution.? New York

Review of Books. 5/31/90, Vol 37 issue 9 p 8.

6) Gopinik, A. ?A Leap in the Dark.? New Yorker. 10/23/89,

p 132.

7) History of Modern Art, H.H. Arnason & Marla F. Prather,

4th Edition

8) John Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis, 1907-1914

9) Richard, John. ?Braque, The great forgotten modernist.?

New York Review of Books. 2/27/97. Vol 44 Issue 5, P 31.

10) Whitfork, Frank. ?Royal Academy of Arts.? TLS.

2/14/97. Issue 4898 p.18

11)?Will George Braque every get his due?? Hudson Review.

Autumn 97, Vol 50 Issue 3, P 444.

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