George Braque understood art in terms of lines, mass, volume and weight used these elements to create subjective beauty. The purpose of art was to create rapport between him and the art piece (Mical, 2003). Braque yearned to not only see but touch artwork and so he created pieces that bridged the manual space and later incorporated other materials like sand and paper onto the canvas. He fragmented his subjects into pieces as a way of getting close to the subject like an artistic surgeon. Fragmentation allowed him to achieve space and movement in his pieces. In the Violin and Palette (1909), Braque breaks down a violin into shattered pieces and paints it onto the canvass in manner that creates movement and simultaneous appreciation of the violin as an intact but seemingly broken subject.
The interactional purpose of art is achieved in his 1908 painting, Houses at l’Estaque. Braque discards the traditions of creating panoramic landscapes and replaces it with a geometric structure that shifts and manipulates cubes in various angles to create an optical three dimensional effect (Mical, 2003). This technique creates a nonlinear effect allowing viewers to have a different view of the scenery from every vantage point. In this manner, Braque successfully transforms art from a fleeting moment or a static experience to a continuous process in motion. The canvas becomes the screen on which he projects his dynamic images for the appreciation of the viewer.
Braque relationship to nature was that it provided the inspiration for art. He believed no painter possessed the skill required to capture nature in all its glory. Instead of trying the impossible task of reproducing nature, he embarked a quest to interpret nature according to his surroundings. He used geometric shapes and subtle palettes to interpret the objects he interacted with. He combined personal sentiments with the inspiration of nature to create pieces that reflected his perspectives on shape, texture, color and composition. In this way, he was able to translate his personal emotions on nature and produce finite that could ignite similar emotions on the viewer. He also changed his subject matter from landscape to still life. Still life painting afforded him greater perspective and interaction with the subject matter than landscape.
As a still life painter, Braque used various subjects such as people Large Nude (1908), music implements Violin and Palette (1909), Violin and Candlestick (1910), Man with Guitar (1912), The Violin (1912) and household items such as La Tasse (1911) and Fruit Dish (1913). Braque relied heavily on his knowledge in geometry and desire to achieve simultaneous perspective in his canvas works (Mical, 2003). He found new ways to reduce both natural and manmade figures into geometric shapes often fragmented to suit his own aspirations for dynamic continuity.
Braque and hi conspirator in cubism Pablo Picasso were not imitators of art but creators of a new form of reality. They used their artistic prowess to create pieces that transformed the art into a new “language” form. Pre-cubism artists worked hard to imitate nature by making the viewer feel like they are staring out of a window into the nature. Braque felt that it was more important to engage the viewer in the picture as well as the subject matter. He did not create pictures with solutions that pictures that created a problem for the viewer. His paintings were, therefore, not an imitation of nature but the creation of the interaction between the painter, the subject matter and the viewer.
As a student of Cezanne, Braque understood that it was important to remain true to the picture because each picture was alive in art. However, he took this interpretation further by absorbing the viewer into the life of the painting. Braque acknowledged that his realities were different from those of the times of Cezanne and that his knowledge of things was as a result of multiple relations between events and experiences. He expected his artworks to elicit different emotions in different people at different viewpoints.
Braque used synthetic cubism to create new realities from separate components. Braque lived at a time when scientific innovation and technological advancement were changing the socio-economic landscape (Mical, 2003). To remain relevant, the artists of the day had to find ways to keep up with the urban changes without losing their artistic leverage. Braque found a way to deconstruct and reassemble common objects using multiple angles and shapes. He also superimposed other media such as wood grain and newspapers on his art work to create texture add dimension and increase interest. He incorporated open urban spaces with people, machines, objects and light to create new simultaneous forms of modern art.
In 1910, Braque used the Trompe-l’oeil technique on canvas paintings by incorporating wood grains to create texture instead of paint (Mical, 2003). He continued to incorporate readymade materials such as newspapers to his art pieces. He realized that he could achieve better definition by sticking these pieces directly onto the canvas instead of painting them. He perfected the technique of balancing light on the picture to ensure that the additions did not block other subjects on the canvas. To enhance contrast light and shadows, he used charcoal and graphite together with paint. The Woman with a Guitar (1913) is a classic piece he created using paper, paint to create the layered shape of a woman holding a guitar. In this manner, Braque achieved his goal of engaging the mind by fooling it, a technique known as trompe l’espirit.
Mical, T. (2003). The origins of architecture, after De Chirico. Art History, 26(1), 78-99.