Braque


     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 Lééger, 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

Bibliography

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.