Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Second Look: Georges Braque

The Terrace 1948 -49

Le Pigeon Noir, 1956

These absolutely stunning paintings were done by Georges Braque in the late 1930s through to the 60s.  If you are as excited about them as I am we have Ken Kewley to thank.  He is a master in his own right, (as I have blogged previously) and has been uploading a ton of Braque's work onto his facebook to the great fortune and benefit of all of us.

Nature Morte a la Theire au Citron au Poisson, 1960
If you have had any of the same art school and museum experience as me, then Braque was neatly categorized with Cubist Picasso -- a swimming image of browns and collage materials comes to mind.  Nice work, important at the time, but not so much to take from it and learn from as a painter today -- UNTIL THESE.  These paintings are some of the best, most relevant paintings I have seen in the last year and pretty much ever.  I feel invigorated by them, ready to go paint, which is when I know a painting is really moving.
 Still Life with Palette, 1943
And there are hundreds of them.  Ken says in a brilliant essay on color, "paint instinctively with joy" and since I read that I commit it to memory and use it in the studio to bolster my courage.  I think Braque is someone who truly accomplished this feat.  
L'atelier au Tabouret, 1939

Update:  Two days after posting this I learned that the Phillips will be having " the first in-depth study of still life in Georges Braque’s (1882–1963) career framed within the historical and political context of 1928 to 1945."  Eek.  Can't wait it opens June 8th.


Derrick Quevedo said...

Braque was always a good colorist. His frequent use of a white outline is a throwback to the anti-cerne of his fauvism. Even with his use of neutrals browns and blacks tend to glow.

Aubrey Levinthal said...

True! And looking back carefully in my mind a few Braque's are present (especially one with a bike and rain at the Phillips)

But in general I would have to say art history and its institutions do not pay full homage to his entire career and influence/interaction with other great colorists of the time -- I guess I should only speak for my experience but I don't find his pieces from the early 1910's particularly moving or worthy of all the attention considering the rest of his career.

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