Georges Braque was an eminent twentieth century French painter and sculptor, who was also the co-founder of ‘Cubism.’ Born on May 13, 1882, in Argenteuil-sur-Seine, from 1897 to 1899, he learned painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Le Havre, the city where he grew up. He commenced his artistic journey, experimenting in styles, such as ‘Impressionism’ and ‘Fauvism,’ before he developed ‘Cubism’ along with Pablo Picasso in 1908. Cezanne’s artistry of ‘multiple perspectives,’ exhibited at Salon d’Automne, in 1907, inspired the duo towards ‘Cubism.’ French art critic Louis Vauxcelles saw a painting by Braque in 1908 and called it ‘Cubism,’ or ‘bizarre cubiques.’ He perceived the artwork as ‘full of little cubes.’ This led to the christening of the Picasso’s and Georges’ invention as ‘Cubism,’ which the duo was not initially excited about. Braque’s magnum opus “Violin and Candlestick,” painted in spring 1910, exemplifies the vibrant persona of the ‘Cubist’ style of painting.
Mostly monochromatic in style and themed on ‘Still Life,’ Braque’s’ ‘Cubist’ works mostly stunned the art community. This 24″ x 19 3/4″ (61cm x 50cm), oil on canvass, “Violin and Candlestick” is a result of the amalgamated slices of music and violin sheets rearranged at atypical angles to create a single intertwined image, with the shifting surface of forms, planes, arcs, and colors. The painting whilst illustrating three-dimensional view of the subjects on a flat canvas, shuns the traditional ‘Renaissance’ perspective. This actually is ‘Cubism,’ which focuses on representing the subjects, as viewed from several angles.
“Violin and Candlestick” was an outcome of Georges’ obsession for form and stability, fuelled with a desire to create an illusion in a viewer’s mind to move around freely within the painting. To achieve this, the painter conglomerated the subjects at the centre of a grid like armature & covered the boundaries of the black-outlined objects using earth-toned colors. Thereby, he managed to transform the volumes of static to hold compound surfaces on a flat plane, enabling onlookers to appreciate more of form compared to any other angle. Recognizing and understanding the effects of light astutely to elicit the appropriate emotions and effects of the subjects also served as a vital parameter for Braque’s “Violin and Candlestick.” He expressed this art of fragmentation as “a technique for getting closer to the object.”
Georges Braque breathed his last on August 31, 1963, in Paris. His masterpiece, “Violin and Candlestick” is exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.