Georges Braque

Biography of Georges Braque

Georges Braque was involved in two of the most seismic art movements of the 20th century, Fauvism and Cubism. His prodigious output of still-life paintings and experimental vigor mark him out as one of the most gifted artists of his time.


Born in France in 1882 Georges Braque grew up in Le Havre and studied most evenings at the École des Beaux-Arts from 1997-1899. Initially Braque’s work had a distinctly Impressionist look but after attending an exhibition from the artist group known as the Fauves, in 1905, he changed his style by adopting their manner of using brilliant colors to represent an emotional response. However, soon after meeting Pablo Picasso and under the influence of his masterpiece Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 he began using a palette of greens and browns and simplified forms. Soon he and Picasso were working together in close proximity and between them analytic and synthetic Cubism was born. There were points when their work was indistinguishable from the other’s, their styles had grown so similar.


Not long after meeting Picasso, Georges Braque had his first solo show at Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler’s gallery in 1908. His close friendship with Picasso lasted right up to the outbreak of the First World War. Braque volunteered immediately but was severely injured in 1915. His recovery in 1917 coincided with him becoming a close friend of the artist Juan Gris. His fame grew in the 1920s and Braque began taking on a wider range of projects that included designing the sets for Sergei Diaghilev ballets including Les Fâcheux in 1924. During this time his work was becoming increasingly freer and he made his first engraved plaster works in 1931.


In 1937 George Braque was awarded First Prize at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. Like many artists Braque decided to remain in Paris during the Second World War although his work became noticeably more melancholy. He was a skilled lithographer as well as being adept at sculptures and engravings. In 1948 he won the main painting prize at the 1948 Venice Biennale. Ill-health in later life constrained him to take on just a few large-scale projects but he continued to design jewelry and pursue his printmaking projects. He died on August 31, 1963, in Paris. His work is a mainstay of all major collections around the world, including the Tate, London, MoMA and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum both in New York. Braque will be remembered as one of the great still life painters of the modern age and a pioneering figure of abstract art.

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