Georges Braque

GEORGES BRAQUE

June 13, 2014 - September 21, 2014

DISCOVER

Exhibition sponsored by

Georges Braque
THE EXHIBITION

Georges Braque (1882−1963) is one of the 20th century’s major artists. A painter, sculptor, and engraver he played the lead part in two essential chapters in the history of modern art: the creation, with Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris, of Cubism, and the invention of collage thanks to his experiments with papiers collés (“pasted papers”). He later focused his work on the methodological exploration of still life and landscape painting. Braque became the modern French painter par excellence, heir to classical tradition and representative of the avant-garde, precursor of post-war abstraction. This major retrospective of his work, organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his death, covers all periods of his career, from his fauve years—he exhibited with the young fauve artists at the 1907 Salon des Indépendants—until his last series dedicated to the artista studios and birds, with specific emphasis on the most outsanding periods of his work, such as Cubism, his Canephore paintings of the 1920s or his last landscapes, so greatly admired by Nicolas de Staël

Thanks to the extraordinary loans from the Centre Georges Pompidou and other important international collections, the exhibition brings together some 250 pieces, among which are great masterpieces and documentary materials that throw light on other aspects of his activity, such his collaboration with Pablo Picasso, the resonance between his art and music (where his close friendship with Erik Satie stands out), his affinity with poets including Pierre Reverdy, Francis Ponge, and René Char and important intellectuals of his time such as Carl Einstein and Jean Paulhan. This exhibition places the work of the grand master of Cubism, Georges Braque, in the place he deserves in the history of art and offers visitors the possibility to rediscover a demanding, inquisitive, and intelligent work.

Georges Braque
Nature morte à la nappe rouge, 1934
Oil on canvas
81 x 101 cm
Collection particulière
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Laurens / Leiris SAS Paris

Georges Braque
GEORGES BRAQUE
Argenteuil-sur-Seine (France), 1882

1882 Born 13 May 1882 in Argenteuil-sur-Seine. His father, Charles Braque, runs a mural painting business.

1905 Student under Léon Bonnat at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Discovers fauvism at the Salon d’Automne with the paintings of Matisse, Manguin, Derain, Vlaminck, Marquet, Camoin.

1906Birth of the Le Havre Cercle de l’Art Moderne. Until 1909, Braque, Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy participate in the annual fauvist painting exhibitions.
In June, in Anvers, first fauvist works. In October, first stay at L’Estaque: “It is in the South of France that I felt the exaltation come upon me!”

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Georges Braque
GEORGES BRAQUE
Argenteuil-sur-Seine (France), 1882

1882 Born 13 May 1882 in Argenteuil-sur-Seine. His father, Charles Braque, runs a mural painting business.

1905 Student under Léon Bonnat at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Discovers auvism at the Salon d’Automne with the paintings of Matisse, Manguin, Derain, Vlaminck, Marquet, Camoin.

1906 Birth of the Le Havre Cercle de l’Art Moderne. Until 1909, Braque, Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy participate in the annual fauvist painting exhibitions.
In June, in Anvers, first fauvist works. In October, first stay at L’Estaque: “It is in the South of France that I felt the exaltation come upon me!”

1907 March 20 – April 30: at the Salón des Indépendants, exhibits six fauve landscapes. In fall, stays at L’Estaque and La Ciotat, producing landscapes in the style of Cézanne. In late November, in Bateau-Lavoir, Apollinaire introduces him to Picasso.

1908 November 8–9: first solo exhibition at the Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler Gallery, with geometrized landscapes that mark the official beginning of Cubism. The catalogue preface was written by Apollinaire.

1909 Summer in La Roche-Guyon, near Nantes, first landscapes of Analytic Cubism.

1911 Appearance for the first time in his pictures of stenciled typographic elements, thereby enriching the meaning and understanding of his works.

1912 1912 In September, in Sorgues, creation of the first papier collé, literally pasted paper, Fruit Dish and Glass, which introduces a foreign element to the work of art and permits the separation of color and shape.

1913 Birth of Synthetic Cubism. The paintings incorporate the learnings extracted from the papiers collés, imitating its materials and typographic signs.

1914August 3: break-out of the World War I.
Braque is called to the ranks. On 14 November, he is sent to the front at the Somme.

1915 May 11: badly wounded at Artois, stops painting until 1917.

1917 Pierre Reverdy’s magazine Nord-Sud publishes his “Thoughts and Reflections on Painting”

1919 March 5–31: Leónce Rosenberg’s Galerie de l’Effort Moderne, second solo exhibition, with still lifes. Start of his friendship with Erik Satie.

1922 November 1–December 20: at the Salon d’Automne, the Canephores represent his new classical inspiration.

1924-1925 Collaboration with Serguéi Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: Les Fâcheux, Zéphire et Flore, and Salade for the Parisian soirées organized by the Count de Beaumont.
May 2–21 1924: first exhibition at the home of his new dealer, Paul Rosenberg.

1925 Studio built by Auguste Perret in Paris, beside Montsouris Park.

1926 March 23: marries Marcelle Lapré, his life-long partner since 1910.

1930 Studio built by Paul Nelson in Varengeville-sur-Mer, where Braque lives for part of the year.

1932 Illustrates Hesiod’s Theogony for Ambroise Vollard. Cycle of paintings, engravings, and sculptures of mythological inspiration.

1933 April 9–May 14: retrospective at the Kunsthalle in Basel. The catalogue preface is written by Carl Einstein, author of his first monograph, in 1934.

1939 Moves to Varengeville for the duration of the war. First forays into sculpture, series of austere, symbolic vanitas.

1943 Publication of Braque le Patron by Jean Paulhan.

1944 1944 Starts the cycle on billiard tables, ended in 1949.

1946 Nicolas de Staël calls him “the greatest living painter on the planet”.

1947 May 30–June 30: First exhibition at the gallery of Aimé Maeght, his last dealer. Meets Poet René Char.

1948 Prize at the 14th Venice Biennale.

1949-1956 Series of Studies.

1953 Paints Birds (Oiseaux) for the ceiling of the Henry II gallery in the Louvre Museum, known as the Etruscan gallery.

1954 Starts the Birds series, completed in 1962.

1955 Starts the cycle of his last landscapes of Varengeville.

1963 August 31: Georges Braque dies in Paris. The artist was given a send-off with state honors and buried in a small cemetery in Varengeville-sur-Mer.

Man Ray
Georges Braque, 1922
Gelatin silver print on print out paper on paper
23.9 x 19.2 cm
45 x 38 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris
Acquisition, 1982

GEORGES BRAQUE
Argenteuil-sur-Seine (France), 1882

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Georges Braque
ARTWORKS

Georges Braque
Landscape in L’Estaque (Paysage de l’Estaque), 1906–1907
Oil on canvas
50 x 61 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. Gift, 1986
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


Fauvism
1906-1907

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While studying at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he saw the Fauve art of André Derain and Henri Matisse during the group’s official debut at the 1905 Salon d’Automne. Fauve (beast) artists—thus dubbed by art critic Louis Vauxcelles—sought to express the feelings that nature inspired in them through pure color. Braque’s landscapes from this early period, painted at L’Estaque in 1906 and La Ciotat in 1907, reflect his interest in the work of Paul Cézanne, who had just passed away, as well as his conversion to the space and color of Fauvism.

Georges Braque
Viaduct in L’Estaque (Le Viaduc de l’Estaque), early 1908
Oil on canvas
72.5 x 59 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris Gift, 1984
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photograph © Georges Meguerditchian - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


Cubism
1908-1909

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1907 marked the beginning of a great friendship but, above all, it marked the birth of Cubism, a new pictorial language presaged by Paul Cézanne’s formal innovations. Braque’s first Cubist works present a solid geometric fragmentation of objects and the pictorial space, as well as a departure from the single perspective which had dominated art up to that point, instead choosing to depict objects in their most essential forms from multiple vantage points.

Georges Braque
Piano and Mandola (Piano et mandore), winter 1909–1910
Oil on canvas
91.7 x 42.8 cm
The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York 54.1411
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Solomon R Guggenheim Museum


Analytic Cubism
1909-1912

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Between 1909 and 1914, step by step, Braque and Picasso launched a genuine aesthetic revolution. In this early phase, known as “Analytic Cubism”, color—deemed too anecdotal—is reduced to shades of green and grayish-beige. Forms are fragmented into facets and merge into the spatial continuum, without becoming completely abstract. The radically condensed subjects are only hinted at by the orientation of the planes and their sharp edges.

Georges Braque
Guitar (La Guitare), 1912
Charcoal, wood print paper glued on paper
70,2 x 60,7 cm
Private collection
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Laurens / Leiris SAS Paris


Papiers collés
1912-1914

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One group of works in the early history of Cubism merits a section apart: the papiers collés or “pasted papers,” a series of more than 50 pieces that Braque, in a sudden change of tack, produced between 1912 and 1914. He made the first in September 1912 at Sorgues, a town near Avignon where he had spent the summer with Picasso. The papiers collés gave his Cubist style a whole new feel: with the incorporation of prefabricated materials, such as wallpaper and newspaper clippings, color began to flood his work, paving the way for the appearance of Synthetic Cubism

Georges Braque
Guitar and Glass (Guitare et verre), 1917
Oil on canvas, 60.1 x 91.5 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photograph © Coll. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo


Synthetic Cubism
1913-1917

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Braque’s work during and after the papiers collés period incorporated the lessons he had learned from that technique and moved Cubism forward into a more legible form known as Synthetic Cubism. The orthogonal grid of extended planes is still present, but now it features solid blocks of color—dark, patterned, or faux-bois—that imitate the papiers collés. Both Picasso and Braque also included sand, curved lines, and figurative details in their works during this period, which coincided with the outbreak of World War I, a major turning point in Braque’s oeuvre. In 1915 the artist was wounded and given up for dead at Neuville-Saint-Vaast, but after a lengthy convalescence he finally resumed painting in 1917. The conflict also affected those around him: his German-born dealer Kahnweiler was forced to flee to Switzerland, and from then on Léonce Rosenberg would be Braque’s representative. In 1917, his friend Picasso set off on his European adventure with the Ballets Russes.

Georges Braque
Fruits on Tablecloth and Fruit Dish (Fruits sur une nappe et compotier), 1925
Oil on canvas
130.5 x 75 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris.
Purchased from the artist, 1947
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photograph © Bertrand Prévost - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


Still lifes
1919-1929

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At his second one-man show at Léonce Rosenberg's Galerie l'Effort Moderne in 1919, Braque presented a series of still lifes which he continued to work on over the following decade. These works build on Synthetic Cubism, returning to the motley compositions of solid colors but now stretching them into elongated forms. Often centered on recurring motifs, such as guéridons, fireplaces, or fruit dishes (echoing his admired Cézanne), these works achieve a harmonious blend of form, color, and material.

Georges Braque
Canephores (Canéphores), 1922
Oil on canvas
180,5 x 73 cm each
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris
Bequest Baronne Eva Gourgaud, 1965
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Bertrand Prévost - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


Nudes and Canephora
1922-1930

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Braque created a stir of surprise at the 1922 Salon d’Automne when he revealed his Canéphores. The theme of these feminine figures evokes Classical Antiquity and is reminiscent of the Nymphs adorning Jean Goujon’s Fontaine des Innocents, icons of French classicism. Braque’s figures remain loyal to late Cubism in their anti-academic proportions and colors, but they also embody the complexity of Braque’s “return to order” and figuration, a product of his fascination with Corot and Chardin, during the 1920s

Georges Braque
Woman with a Palette (Femme à la palette), 1936
Oil on canvas
92.1 x 92.2 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon. Bequest Jacqueline Delubac, 1997
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © RMN-Grand Palais / René-Gabriel Ojéda / Thierry Le Mage


Still lifes, interiors and figures
1932-1939

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The thirties saw Braque open out towards different sources of inspiration, meaning that his still lifes in this stage, perfect harmony of shapes, colors and light, became more decorative. The compositions were accompanied by rich arabesques and combined organic forms with decorative styling. The series of indoor figures, such as Woman with a Palette (1936) and The Duet (1937), also packed with decorative features, represents depersonalized black silhouettes inspired in the black figures on Greek vases. They are the muses of poetry and music that inhabit Braque’s spiritual universe and lend him his extraordinary sensitivity.

Georges Braque
Black Fish (Les Poissons noirs), 1942
Oil on canvas, 33 x 55 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. Gift the artist, 1947
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


Varengeville, Vanitas, Interiors, Studies
1941-1949

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The break-out of war saw Braque take refuge in Varengeville-sur-Mer, which became an important artists’ colony in the thirties where Braque had a workshop built by the North American architect, Paul Nelson. Later, during the Nazi Occupation and the Vichy Government, he spent a short period in Limousin and again near Toulouse before finally moving into his Paris workshop until the end of the Occupation, occasionally returning to Varengeville. He admits to being “highly sensitive to the surrounding atmosphere”, prompting him to produce dark and painful works. Skulls flanked by crucifixes and rosaries or the typical fish found in Christian iconography are images of the misfortunes of war. The silhouettes of dark, phantasmagoric human figures, viewed from behind, embody the loneliness and melancholy of an artist shut away in his workshop before the easel.
After the war, Braque’s billiard table series (Billards) exuberantly reclaimed the visual space of Cubism and its interplay of geometric transformations based on multiple scales of representation (homothety).

Georges Braque
Billiard (Le Billard), 1944
Oil and sand on canvas, 130,5 x 195,5 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris, Purchased in 1946
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © MNAM - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


The billiard tables
1941-1949

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After the war, the series dedicated to billiard tables led Braque to recover the cubist visual space and the puzzles of its geometric transformations in homothetic style. The absence of people in these works is mitigated by the representation of myriad partial views of the felt by a player and by the representation of the irrational forces that move billiard balls.

Georges Braque
Taller IX (Atelier IX), 1952-1956
Oil on canvas
146 x 146 cm
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, París
Dación, 1982
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Bertrand Prévost - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP


The Studios
1949-1964

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For the elderly, ailing Braque, these were years of international recognition and acclaim. Despite his poor health, he began a new series at his Varengeville workshop on a classic theme: the artist’s studio. The private, closed setting of the studio represents the artist’s mental space, and the objects, both real and metaphorical, reveal the universe that Braque had developed over the years and herald the appearance of a theme that would dominate his twilight years: birds, a theme that was sparked by a commission Braque received in 1955 to decorate the ceiling of the Etruscan gallery at the Louvre, on which he depicted giant blue birds. The paintings shown here underscore the importance of this iconic, archetypal theme in Braque’s late works, but they also attest to the vitality of an artist who remained open to new ideas to the very end of his life. Initially treated figuratively and texturally, the birds became increasingly abstract

Georges Braque
Black Bird and White Bird (L’Oiseau noir et l’oiseau blanc), 1960
Oil on canvas, 134 x 167.5 cm
Private collection
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Laurens / Leiris SAS Paris


The Birds
1949-1964

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The subject of birds was sparked by a commission Braque received in 1955 to decorate the ceiling of the Etruscan gallery at the Louvre, on which he depicted giant blue birds. The paintings shown here underscore the importance of this iconic, archetypal theme in Braque’s late works, but they also attest to the vitality of an artist who remained open to new ideas to the very end of his life. Initially treated figuratively and texturally, the birds became increasingly abstract. Distilled into signs and ideograms thrust into spaces or pictograms that float serenely in harmony with the planets.

Georges Braque
Colza Fields (Les Champs de colza), 1956-1957
Oil on canvas, 37 x 81.5 cm (with frame, painted by the artist)
Private collection
Georges Braque © VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Laurens / Leiris SAS Paris


The Late Landscapes
1955-1963

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At the end of his life, Braque, who divided his time between Paris and Varengeville, began a series of landscapes, long panoramas showing nothing but the earth meeting the sky, or the sea and sky, as far as the eye can see, sometimes crisscrossed by black (birds) or white (clouds) signs. These are the last paintings ever produced by Braque, who in the end abandoned the studio and turned his attention to the great outdoors, as documented in photographs that show him strolling along the cliff tops at Varengeville. Here the construction of the pictorial reality, which Braque had made his credo, is laid bare, represented by two stripes of thick, crusty paint.

Georges Braque
Model for the ballet «Les Fâcheux» (La maquette du ballet «Les Fâcheux»), 1923
Gouache on cardboard
43,9 x 51 x 10,1 cm
Private collection
© Georges Braque, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2014
Photo © Laurens / Leiris SAS Paris


The Ballets
1924-1926

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This chronological review of Georges Braque’s oeuvre would not be complete without a special section devoted to his collaboration with the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, and Léonide Massine, with whom many artists of his day also worked. Braque participated in four different productions: Les Fâcheux (1924), Salade (1924), Zéphire et Flore (1925), and Les Sylphides (1926). Three of these works were produced by the Ballets Russes, while Salade was choreographed by Léonide Massine and performed at the charity benefit organized by Count Étienne de Beaumont in the theater of La Cigale. Braque created the costumes and set design for Salade, including the stage curtain shown here alongside some of the original costumes from Zéphire et Flore.

Georges Braque
ACTIVITIES


CONFERENCE BY BRIGITTE LEAL: Georges Braque

Brigitte Leal, curator of the exhibition and Assistant Director of the Musée national d’art moderne Centre Pompidou, will explain the ins and outs of the exhibition Georges Braque and the artist’s work.

Place and time:
Auditorium, 6.30 pm
Tickets:
Free (tickets must be collected from the Museum ticket offices)



SCREENING: PICASSO & BRAQUE GO TO THE MOVIES (sold out)

This documentary produced by Martin Scorsese and Robert Greenhut, directed by art dealer and gallerist Arne Glimcher, explains how the technological revolutions of the early 20th century, such as aviation and above all the film industry, influenced the creative works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, among others. With the participation of recognized figures in the international art world, such as Julian Schnabel, Chuck Close, Bernice Rose, Coosje Van Bruggen, Lucas Samaras, Adam Gopnik, Eric Fischl, and Martin Scorsese.

Place:
Zero Espazioa, 7 p.m.
Tickets:
Free (tickets must however be collected from the Museum ticket offices)



SUMMER WORKSHOP CREATIVE SESSIONS DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF COLLAGE

Georges Braque, a pioneer of papiers collés, is the starting point for this workshop for adults presenting collage as rather more than just “cut and paste.” A technique for creating images that we see every day in communication, advertising, newspapers, and the visual arts. Participants will learn the tricks of constructing an effective image.

Place and time:
Zero Espazioa, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Tickets:
Online only: museum members, €30; general public, €36. Minimum 8, maximum 20 people.

Georges Braque
DID YOU KNOW ... ?

In addition to being one of the key figures in the art of the first half of the 20th century, Georges Braque (France, 1882–1963) lived during the extraordinary period when Paris was an epicenter for the generation of ideas, and rubbed shoulders with great artists and intellectuals key to the development of modern art. Discover the major highlights of his career, the people and places he frequented in this visual map specifically generated for the didactic space of the exhibition.

Georges Braque Diagram