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 Georges Braque  (1882 - 1963)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: cubist interior and still-life painting, collage, lithography

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BIOGRAPHY for Georges Braque
Facts/Data
Birth
1882 (Argenteuil-sur-Seine, France)
 
Death
1963 (Paris, France )

Lived/Active
France


© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Often Known For
cubist interior and still-life painting, collage, lithography

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following was written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.


Georges Braque was born on May 13, 1882 in Argenteuil, France, where his parents ran a paint shop. He was brought up in Le Havre. His father was a house painter at that time, and he encouraged the boy's attempts to draw.  Georges also took music lessons from Raoul Dufy's flutist brother, Pierre, which resulted in Braque's continuous love of music; he played several instruments. 

A slow deliberate student, Braque accomplished nothing much until he became, at age twenty, the youngest member of the group known as the Fauves and first came into prominence in 1906 as a Fauve painter.  However he was unhappy with his first canvases in the new style and subsequently destroyed them because they were too realistic for him.

With Orthon Friesz, an old friend from Le Havre, Braque went to Antwerp where he began to lighten his palette. In 1908, Braque produced his first Cubist canvases to which the lessons of Fauvism contributed.   

Braque with Picasso was one of the founders of Cubism- that style of painting which became the dominant style for the first half of the 20th century. The twenty-five year old Braque visited the twenty-six year old Picasso in his studio in November 1907.  There he saw the huge and shocking Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.  Braque's responded: "It is as if someone had drunk kerosene to spit fire." Braque was called the moon to Picasso's sun in their partnership.  Picasso had a healthy head start but after setting up in L'Estaque in the south of France during the summer of 1908, Braque took the lead.  He solidified and refined cubism's multiple viewpoints and spacial ambiguity. The collaboration then began in earnest.   

In appearance, Braque differed from Picasso. Braque was a tall stocky fellow; Picasso was short, but solid. Unlike Picasso's revolving-door sex life, in 1912, Braque found one wife, Marcelle Lapre, decided he liked her and stayed with her for more than fifty years. Like his paintings, Braque was a man of many facets.  He was an avid swimmer, a boxer and a wrestler.  He played the accordion; he drove speedy sports cars until age finally slowed him down; and he was known as a good dancer.   

In 1914, Braque was drafted into the French Army.  He was hit in the head on May 11, 1915 and was left for dead on the battlefield of Neuville-Saint-Vaast. After being picked up the next day by stretcher-bearers, Braque evidently underwent cranial drilling. Having spent two days in a coma, he recovered consciousness on May 13, his birthday. He had a long convalescence, mainly in Paris and Sorgues and did not work again until 1917.  His wounds would affect him the rest of his life, apparent to visitors through a certain stiffness and slowness of movement.   

More than Picasso, Braque remained faithful to Cubism throughout his long life, finding in its discipline and subtle color harmonies ample means to express what he saw and thought and felt.  As a young man Braque had been an apprentice in the family house-painting business and had learned the craft of simulating in paint the grain of wood or marble.  It is amazing how much Braque could achieve with a deliberately limited palette.   

He also had a remarkable  gift for light and was a born colorist, painting with sweet and intimate poetry. He was the purest painter of his time; never mechanized like Picasso, Gris and Leger.  His still life occupy an honored place in the history of this genre in which homage is paid to assembled objects of everyday life.  Braque developed a mastery of textured surfaces, together with carefully calibrated tones and patterns; he emphasized shapes by forcefully bordering them.  In 1912 Braque invented the paper collage, in which scraps of newsprint and ticket stubs were  glued onto the canvas.   

A fun-loving circle of friends and followers formed around Braque and Picasso.  They went to circuses, listened to Chinese music and played instruments ranging from the accordion to weird African drums.  They collected African sculpture, odd glasses and nails. 


Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Georges Braque was born on May 13, 1882, in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, France, a locale favored by many Impressionists painters.  He received his first lessons in painting from his father, who was a house decorator and amateur painter.  In 1890 the family moved to Le Havre, where Braque would attend evening classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from about 1897 to 1899.  At the age of 19, he left for Paris to get his craftsman certificate.

From 1902 to 1904, Braque painted at the Académie Humbert in Paris, where he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia.  By 1906, Braque’s work was no longer Impressionist and had evolved into the bolder Fauvist style.  He showed his Fauve works the following year in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris.  His first solo show was at Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler’s gallery in 1908.

From 1909, Pablo Picasso and Braque worked together in developing Cubism and by 1911, their styles were extremely similar.  One of Picasso's many pet names for Braque was 'Vilbour' or 'Wilbourg', a reference to Wilbur Wright.  Picasso saw in their 1908-1914 creative partnership something that was akin to the pairing of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, the pioneers of sustained powered flight.  In 1912, they started to incorporate collage elements into their paintings and to experiment with the papier collé (pasted paper) technique with Braque utilizing a roll of wallpaper he found in a local shop.

Braque served with honor in the French army during World War I and was seriously wounded in the head, leaving him temporarily blinded and unable to paint.  Upon his recovery in 1917, he began a close friendship with painter Juan Gris.

After World War I, Braque’s work became freer and less schematic.  His fame grew in 1922 as a result of an exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.  In the mid-1920s, Braque designed the decor for two Sergei Diaghilev ballets.  By the end of the decade, he had returned to a more realistic interpretation of nature, although certain aspects of Cubism always remained present in his work.  In 1931, Braque made his first engraved plasters and began to portray mythological subjects.  His first important retrospective took place in 1933 at the Kunsthalle Basel.  He won First Prize at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, in 1937.

During World War II, Braque remained in Paris. His paintings at that time, primarily still lifes and interiors, became more somber.  From the late 1940s Braque also created lithographs, engravings, and sculpture where he utilized his recurring themes of birds, ateliers, landscapes, and seascapes.  His international fame continued to grow, when in 1948 he was awarded the main prize for painting at the Venice Biennale, and in 1951, was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour.  A few years later, Braques' skill as a craftsman came into play when he designed stained-glass windows for the church of Varengeville and painted the ceiling for the Etruscan Gallery at The Louvre.  Georges Braque had the distinction of being the first living artist to have his artworks exhibited at The Louvre in 1961.

During the last few years of his life, Braque’s ill health prevented him from undertaking further large-scale commissions, but he continued to paint, create lithographs, and design jewelry.  He died on August 31, 1963, in Paris with his wife, Marcelle, at his side.

Quote:
“Once an object has been incorporated in a picture it accepts a new destiny.”

Selected Museum Collections:
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Louvre Museum, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA
Tate Gallery, London

Biography from Leslie Sacks Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in 1882 in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, Georges Braque was one of the inventors of Cubism as well as the collage, two artistic techniques that would open a crucial door into twentieth century art. Along with Picasso, Georges Braque crossed traditional boundaries and worked toward something beyond abstraction; he strove to link abstraction to visual reality, and succeeded in doing so by pioneering the innovative techniques that changed modern art.

Georges Braque received his first lessons in painting from his father, who owned a house painting business. From in 1889, the young artist enrolled in evening classes at Le Havre Ecole Municipale des Beaux-Arts while in the meantime apprenticing to an interior designer. Within the three years following this training, Georges Braque would travel to Paris, serve brief military service, attend the Academie Humbert and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. By the time Georges Braque left the Academie, the artist was ready to start exhibiting his work in public.

Georges Braque began his career in an impressionistic style, and exhibited some such pictures at the Salon des Independants in 1906. Soon, however, he discovered Fauvism at l’Estaque and was inspired by its vibrant tones and freedom of handling. When Braque met Picasso, the two artists joined forces and began to develop a new style that embraced sharp-edged surfaces and gradated tone and value; the two artists continued experimentation throughout 1908, and at an exhibition at Kahnweiler’s Gallery in Paris that same year, Cubism was officially born.

During the years that followed, Georges Braque and Picasso moved through the analytic phase of Cubism, creating works whose themes were faceted, broken apart and reassembled in extremely innovative fashions. These paintings displayed a multiplicity of viewpoints, and often included in their surfaces found texts from newspapers, labels and magazines. The two artists took note that the insertion of actual everyday texts into their work helped link their art to visual reality, and after 1912, the collage was born. Georges Braque’s work from this period included large forms, vibrant color, and stenciled lettering. The work attained an autonomous reality, separate from the illusionism of painting and achieving exactly what Braque had set out to do.

In 1937, The Yellow Tablecloth, a Braque masterpiece, was awarded the Carnegie Prize in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Several major retrospectives of the work of Georges Braque have taken place, including exhibitions in Basel, New York, Paris, London and Brussels. From 1939 until his death in1963, Braque continued to develop his theory and his work not only in the form of painting, but also in sculpture, ceramics, and lithography.

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Georges Braque was born on May 13, 1882, in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, France.  He grew up in Le Havre and studied evenings at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from about 1897 to 1899.  He left for Paris to study under a master decorator to receive his craftsman certificate in 1901.

From 1902 to 1904 he painted at the Académie Humbert in Paris, where he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia.  By 1906 Braque was doing work which was no longer Impressionist but Fauve in style.  After spending that summer in Antwerp with Othon Friesz, he showed his Fauve work the following year in the Salon des Indépendants exhibition in Paris.

His first solo show was at Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler’s gallery in 1908. From 1909 Pablo Picasso and Braque worked together in developing Cubism; by 1911 their styles were extremely similar.  In 1912 they started to incorporate collage elements into their paintings and to experiment with the papier collé (pasted paper) technique.  Their artistic collaboration lasted until 1914.  Braque served in the French army during World War I and was wounded; upon his recovery in 1917 he began a close friendship with Juan Gris.

After World War I, Braque’s work became freer and less schematic.  His fame grew in 1922 as a result of an exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in Paris.  In the mid-1920s Braque designed the decor for two Sergei Diaghilev ballets.  By the end of the decade, he had returned to a more realistic interpretation of nature, although certain aspects of Cubism always remained present in his work.  In 1931 Braque made his first engraved plasters and began to portray mythological subjects.  His first important retrospective took place in 1933 at the Kunsthalle Basel.  He won first prize at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, in 1937.

During World War II, Braque remained in Paris.  His paintings at that time, primarily still lifes and interiors, became more somber.  In addition to paintings, Braque also made lithographs, engravings, and sculptures.  From the late 1940s he treated various recurring themes such as birds, ateliers, landscapes, and seascapes.  In 1954 he designed stained-glass windows for the church of Varengeville.  During the last few years of his life, Braque had ill health which prevented him from undertaking further large-scale commissions, but he continued to paint, make lithographs, and design jewelry.

He died on August 31, 1963, in Paris.

Biography from Acquisitions Of Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Georges Braque was a 20th century French painter who invented Cubism with Pablo Picasso. Along with Cubism, Braque used the styles of Impressionism, Fauvism and collage, and even staged designs for the Ballet Russes. Through his career, his style changed to portray somber subjects during wartime and lighter, freer themes in between. He never strayed far from Cubism, as there were always aspects of it in his works. Braque died on August 31, 1963, in Paris.

Braque's first solo show took place in 1908 at Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler's gallery. From 1909 to 1914, Braque and fellow artist Pablo Picasso collaborated to develop Cubism as well as to incorporate collage elements and papier collé (pasted paper) into their pieces.

Braque's style changed after World War I, when his art became less structured and planned. A successful exhibition in 1922 at the Salon d'Automne in Paris garnered him much acclaim. A few years later, renowned dancer and choreographer Sergei Diaghilev asked Braque to design decor for two of his ballets at the Ballets Russes. The end of the 1920s saw another style change as Braque began painting more realistic interpretations of nature, though he never strayed far from Cubism, as there were always aspects of it in his works.

Braque started to engrave plaster in 1931, and his first significant show took place two years later at the Kunsthalle Basel. He gained international fame, winning first prize in 1937 at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh.

The advent of World War II influenced Braque to paint more somber scenes. After the war, he painted lighter subjects of birds, landscapes and the sea. Braque also created lithographs, sculptures and stained-glass windows.

In 1910 Braque met Marcelle Lapré, a model introduced to him by Pablo Picasso. They married in 1912 and lived in the small town of Sorgues in southeastern France. During World War I, Braque served in the French army and sustained wounds in 1915. It took him two years to fully recover.

In his elder years, his failing health prevented him from taking on large-scale commissioned projects. Braque died on August 31, 1963, in Paris.

Biography from Boca Raton Museum of Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Georges Braque was born in Argenteuil-sur-Seine on May 13, 1882. He is celebrated as the joint creator, with Picasso, of Cubism*.  Initially he followed his father's trade of house painter, but in 1900 he began study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts* in Paris. In 1906 he formed a friendship with Othon Friesz and like him began painting in the bold colorful manner of the Fauves*.

Braque, however, was not by temperament in harmony with the impulsive aspects of Fauvism and after being impressed by the Cezanne Memorial Exhibition of 1907, he began painting in a geometrically analytical manner. Braque met Picasso the same year and they joined forces in the development of Cubism. Until his wartime mobilization in 1914 he and Picasso worked in close association.

It was during this time that Braque introduced stenciling* and pieces of imitation wood engraving, marbled surfaces, and other faux devices. After the First World War, in which he was severely wounded, Braque did work that diverged sharply from that of Picasso. His style became less angular, leaning toward graceful curves. He concentrated mainly on still life, using subtle colors and texture.

He won First Prize at the Carnegie International* in Pittsburgh in 1937. He died in Paris on August 31, 1963.

By Catalina Torres (Intern)
The Boca Raton Museum of Art

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.

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