Georges Braque (1882–1963) was born on May 13 in Argenteuil near Paris, and raised in Le Havre. Initially apprenticed to a house painter, he studied art at the Académie Humbert in Paris from 1902 to 1904. His art underwent several stylistic changes during his lifetime. About 1906 he briefly adopted Fauvism (below).
After he attended the memorial exhibition for Paul Cézanne in 1907, his work reflected more geometric analysis. That year Braque also met Pablo Picasso, and by 1909 the two artists had become inseparable. As Picasso later recounted, “Almost every evening, either I went to Braque’s studio or he came to mine. Each of us HAD to see what the other had done during the day. We criticized each other’s work. A canvas wasn’t finished until both of us felt it was.” Braque and Picasso collaborated closely on the development of Cubism through 1914.
The two friendly rivals plus Juan Gris and Fernand Léger were the subjects of Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at The Met in 2014–15, a major exhibition and award-winning book.
The most significant private holding of Cubist art in the world today, the Leonard A. Lauder Collection includes 17 works by Braque, including his masterworks Trees at L’Estaque (1908) and The Violin (Mozart/Kubelick) (1912), which was one of three pictures by Braque shown at the New York Armory Show of 1913, the exhibition that introduced European modernism to the American public. This beautifully illustrated volume tells the story of Cubism through twenty-two essays that explore the Lauder Collection, now a promised gift to The Met.
In this video, Met painting conservator Isabelle Duvernois reveals some of Braque’s fascinating working methods by examining his 1914 painting Bottle of Rum in The Met collection, showing us how, in her words, Braque was “an idiosyncratic painter.”
After being discharged from the army with a severe head injury in 1915, Braque resumed painting again in 1917. Living in semiseclusion, he created still lifes, interiors, and, occasionally, landscapes that combine the formal innovations of Cubism with greater emphasis on the decorative, sensuous, and lyrical aspects of painting. By the 1930s he was internationally recognized as a still-life painter.