1,400 Works of Degenerate Art Found in Nazi Collector’s Home

This past Monday Germany’s Focus magazine finally released official press information about a  stash of 20th century art that was discovered back in 2011 under the headline “The Nazi Treasure” (Der Nazi-Schatz). German investigators and tax officials discovered a cache of 1,400 pieces of “degenerate art” when they visited  the cluttered apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich. They found missing paintings, both known and previously unknown, by famous painters such as — it has Picasso, Renoir, Max Beckmann, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and other works have never been seen before now!  Gurlitt is the son of a WWII official who, obviously, was also an art collector during this time and probably had to hide his collection of so called “degenerate” art.

So degenerate art, what is that you may be asking? Well first, a little known fact about Hitler is that he a failed art school in Vienna. He was told he was not very talented, and he was rejected by the arts academies.  He held a grudge over the negative criticism, but he still considered himself an “arbitrator” of art. Later when he came into his power he organized the Degenerate Art Exhibition (Die Ausstellung “Entartete Kunst”) in an effort to control Germany’s media and art culture. Hitler commanded Nazi solders to confiscate modern art that, according to him, promoted anti-Nazi ideas. According to the art school flunky, art could be deemed degenerate if it “insulted” German feeling, or destroyed and confused natural form or simply revealed an absence of adequate manual and artistic skill. So basically any art that showed support for free thinking ideologies was labeled degenerate, and that definition includes nearly all modernist art.

The exhibit was designed to promote the idea that modernism was a conspiracy by people who hated and conspired against German decency, also called Jewish-Bolshevist. (Although only six of the 112 artists included in the exhibition were in fact Jewish.) The second purpose of the Degenerate Art show was to identify which artists were considered verboten by the Nazi leadership. The exhibit consisted of 650 works of art by modernists like Marc ChagallGeorg GroszWassily KandinskyErnst Ludwig KirchnerPaul KleeGeorg Kolbe,Wilhelm LehmbruckFranz MarcEmil Nolde, Picasso and others; all of the art was stolen from German museums and galleries. Hitler and the Nazi leadership pulled off of museum walls thousands of pieces of art that were considered “degenerate,” and exhibited them in Berlin. The show ran from July 19 to November 30, 1937 and was hosted in the Institute of Archeology in the Hofgarten. The day before the exhibition started, Hitler delivered a speech declaring “merciless war” on cultural disintegration, attacking “chatterboxes, dilettantes and art swindlers”. One million people attended the exhibition in its first six weeks which is an average of 20,000 people per day!— and the final estimate is that about 2,009,899 visitors attended the show.  Oh and the exhibition was held simultaneously with the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung (“Great German Art Exhibition”), which served as a counterpoint to the Degenerate show. Its purpose was to example “proper German sensibility” and displayed the classical and “racially pure” type of art advocated by the Nazi regime. That exhibition was hosted near Hofgarten, in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst and was described as mediocre by modern sources; it attracted only about half the numbers of the Degenerate Art show.

So lol at Hitler!

Many works were displayed without frames and partially covered by derogatory slogans. No catalog was created for it, and it had to be reconstructed by modern scholars from secondary sources. But not all of the stolen art was put on display. Historians estimate that around 20% of great European art was stolen by Nazis during WWII, so there is a great deal of outstanding art to be found. The recently discovered Munich trove is  part of the continent’s seven-decade rediscovery of an artistic heritage that is still recovering from the Nazis’ efforts to wipe it out. This collection of looted art has an estimated value of $1.35 billon. Stolen art is known to be out there in private hands, but this kind of cache of nearly 1,500 works is really just unprecedented. It’s a mind blowing huge collection and I would just LOVE to be one of the historians there to document it.  I am sure that art historians will have their hands full recording it all and museums and dealers will be busy trying to figure out who owns which pieces— apparently there are some outstanding requests to locate some of the art found in this cache. But according to Anne-Marie O’Connor, a Jerusalem-based journalist interviewed for an NPR article, this discovery will probably affect the art market more than the art history, and drive up the price of paintings by these artists that are already privately owned.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/06/why-nazi-seized-art-is-only-now-resurfacing-and-how-it-will-change-the-art-world/

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Robert Rauschenberg: A Belated Birthday Post

“Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. I try to act in that gap between the two. A pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil, and fabric.” — Robert Rauschenberg

“Canyon”

Hello friends! I know, I know, I am slacking on the posting, but I have been busy with a local artist group, complex thing right here in my own community. I am amazed everyday by the collaborations going, so I get distracted, take on too much with this, that and the other, and I get too tired to type out anything. My apologies! So the place I am volunteering/working at is called Lowe Mill, and it is fantastic place of art and music, and even food, enrichment. There are hundreds of artists working out of what used to be a actual mill. And I have been asked to research and correct the history of the place and I could not be more thrilled by this opportunity.

Here’s the link to their website for those curious: http://www.lowemill.net

and here’s one to their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lowe-Mill-ARTS-Entertainment/221839969152

Truly, what is happening here with these artist collaborations is amazing and exciting! I will probably start posting about what the artists and myself are up to every once and a while just for fun.

Ok so now, onto Robert Rauschenberg! My intention was to do a brief biography-summary-thing in honor of his birthday, which was last week on the 22nd, and I so missed it. Rauschenberg proved difficult to sum up— the man was prolific to say the least. So now this is a belated Birthday post.

I love Rauschenberg. He is one of those modern artists that gets me all excited and I get angry thinking about how his body of work is often pigeon-holed into one category, taken for granted, and constantly described in terms reductive of Marcel Duchamp. We could argue all day back and forth about whether Duchamp really had a great influence on Rauschenberg or not, but regardless Rauschenberg unquestionably took his art beyond Dada’s ideologies. (Plus “Rauschenberg” is so much more fun to say than “Duchamp”.) There is  quit a breadth of diversity to his work, and he influenced several art movements as well as initiating projects outside of art.  He was very versatile in his choices for both creation and expressing himself using oils, sculpting with “junk” and other debris he found inspiring, making prints for frescos and other artistic pursuits, dabbling in photography, and working in theater as a designer, choreographer, and performer. Rauschenberg even participated in scientific collaborations. And despite challenges and changes he faced throughout his life, Rauschenberg never stopped making art. Basically, Rauschenberg is the definition of a Renaissance man regarding the arts.

The artist was born as Milton Ernest Rauschenberg in Port Arthur, Texas. Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris, France, where he met the painter Susan Weil. In 1942 Rauschenberg put art making aside and served in the U.S. Navy Reserve until 1945. Later, this experience inspired his break through series the “Shelter Drawings”. Two years following his service, during 1947, he attended the Academie Julian in Paris. From there, during 1948 to 1950, he attended the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. There, he studied painting under Josef Albers, a founder of the Bauhaus. Albers’ preliminary courses relied on strict discipline that did not allow for any “uninfluenced experimentation”. Rauschenberg later decided he would do exactly the reverse of Albers’ instructions. Eventually, John Cage would have an abiding influence on Rauschenberg’s work, and Hazel Larsen Archer’ photographs would inspire Rauschenberg to emphasize personal vision over technique. Finally, in 1952 Rauschenberg studied with Vaclav Vytlacil and Morris Kantor at the Art Students League of New York, where he met fellow artists Knox Martin and Cy Twombly.

Art historians categorize Rauschenberg’s approach as “Neo Dadaist,” a label he shares with the painter Jasper Johns. His art is often compared to Duchamp’s earlier Dada works, like “the Fountain”. But I feel that the qualities cited as reminiscent to Duchamp’s are only coincidental. Rauschenberg always said that he wanted to work “in the gap between art and life” suggesting that from the beginning he questioned conventional distinctions between art objects and everyday objects. At the same time, Rauschenberg was moving beyond questioning what is art and who can make, and began to redefine the role of the observer in creating art’s meaning also.

In 1951 Rauschenberg created his monochromatic “White Paintings”. The purpose of this series was to reduce painting to its most essential nature allowing for the possibility of pure experience. The “White Paintings” were shown at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in New York during October 1953. They appear at first to be essentially blank, white canvas. However, one commentator said that “…rather than thinking of them as destructive reductions, it might be more productive to see them, as John Cage did, as hypersensitive screens – what Cage suggestively described as ‘airports of the lights, shadows and particles.’ In front of them, the smallest adjustments in lighting and atmosphere might be registered on their surface. Rauschenberg himself said that they were affected by ambient conditions, “so you could almost tell how many people are in the room”. The “Black Paintings of 1951 like the “White Paintings” were executed on multiple panels and were single colour works. Here Rauschenberg incorporated pieces of newspaper into the painting working the paper into the paint so that sometimes newspaper could be seen and in other places could not.

From the fall of 1952 to the spring of 1953 Rauschenberg traveled through Europe and North Africa with Cy Twombly where, in Morocco, he created collages and boxes out of trash. He took them back to Italy and exhibited them at galleries in Rome and Florence. A lot of them sold; those that did not he threw into the river Arno. From his stay, 38 collages survived. By 1953-1954 Rauschenberg had completely abandoned his White Painting and Black Painting series, and established his Red Painting series. These paintings were created with diverse kinds of paint applications of red paint, and with the addition of materials such as wood, nails, newsprint and other materials to the canvas created complex painting surfaces, and were forerunners of Rauschenberg’s well-known Combine series.  For the Red Paintings, the artist used trash and objects interesting to him picked from the New York City streets. He claimed he:

“wanted something other than what I could make myself and I wanted to use the surprise and the collectiveness and the generosity of finding surprises. And if it wasn’t a surprise at first, by the time I got through with it, it was. So the object itself was changed by its context and therefore it became a new thing.” —Rauschenberg

Another example of Rauschenberg’s unique way of reestablishing worn definitions of art and its purpose is the Erased de Kooning Drawing famously cited from 1953. Rauschenberg obtained a drawing from de Kooning for the express purpose of erasing it as an artistic statement. The resulting work asks the viewer to reconsider the process of art, question attitudes regarding the permanency or “scared” qualities of art, and other conventions related to understanding of art tanned for granted at the time.

 

“White Paintings series”

Rauschenberg’s commitment to explore the gap between art and life is also evident in his “Combines,” which bridged the gap between Pop art and Abstract Expressionism. He created these pieces from 1954 to 1962. “Combines” are pieces of sculpture created from pieces of “junk” and, later, silk over lays. He preferred this type of artwork to drawing, which he had pretty much rejected by this point. The “combining” method of art form is Rauschenberg’s own invention and soon became what he is most known for as an artist. “Combines” differ from earlier collage-like pieces for including clothing, urban debris, and taxidermic animals. These works served to completely delineate and breakdown the boundaries between art and sculpture so that both are present in a single work of art. Rauschenberg made his first Combine in 1953, where a camera bellows and its mount protrude from the canvas. Another early “Combine” titled  Bed (1955) was created by dripping red paint across a quilt. The quilt was later stretched and displayed as a work of art. Some critics from The Daily Telegraph considered the work to be a symbol for violence and rape. Rauschenberg submitted the collaborative combine, Short Circuit (1955), for an annual exhibition at Stable Gallery in 1955. He invited friends to produce small pieces that could be smuggled into the exhibition in his cabinet-shaped construction. A painting by his former wife, artist Susan Weil, appears behind the right door, and a flag composition by Jasper Johns once sat behind the left door. (It went missing in 1965 and was replaced at Rauschenberg’s invitation with a facsimile by the artist Sturtevant.) The work also includes a Judy Garland autograph, an image of Abraham Lincoln, and a postcard of grazing cows, among other items. This piece really pushes the role of the artist in making art by being so dependent on a community of contributors.

“Bed”

Critics originally viewed the “Combines” for their formal aspects of art, shape, color, texture, composition and arrangement of these. The traditional method for critiquing art is limited and served only to impede the larger aspirations of Rauschenberg’s work. His art challenged and transcended conventions, and so cannot be fairly judged by them. Thankfully the 1960’s view has changed over time so that more recently critics and art historians see the “Combines” as carrying coded messages difficult to decipher because there is no apparent order to the presentation of the objects. His cross-medium creations explored the blurry boundaries between art and the everyday world, challenging modernist art critic Clement Greenberg‘s  doctrine on medium specificity. Rauschenberg’s impetus to combine both painting materials and everyday objects continued throughout his artistic life.

Rauschenberg is also a notable forerunner of American Pop Art. In 1962, Rauschenberg evolved the concept of combining from found objects to found images and began to  transfer popular imagery onto his canvas using the silkscreen process. Previously used only in commercial applications, Rauschenberg revolutionized silkscreen printing and was able to address issues relating to commodity, multiple reproducibility of images, and the consequent flattening that the experience implies. His work had a tremendous influence on Andy Warhol. In 1963, Warhol made Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a homage to Rauschenberg in which Warhol used silk screening to transfer multiple images of a photographic self-portrait by Rauschenberg and pictures Rauschenberg had taken of his family onto a canvas.

“Combine”

Combine

Rauschenberg also had a few projects outside of the art sphere.  In 1966, Billy Klüver and Rauschenberg officially launched Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) a non-profit organization that promotes collaborations between artists and engineers. In 1969, NASA invited Rauschenberg to witness the launch of Apollo 11 and the artist created his Stoned Moon Series of lithographs in response to this landmark event. The lithographs involved combining diagrams and other images from NASA’s archives with photographs from various media outlets, as well as with his own work.

Rauschenberg eventually began to work out of his his home and studio in Captiva, Florida, around 1970. His first project on Captiva Island was a 16.5-meter-long silkscreen print called Currents (1970), made with newspapers from the first two months of the year, followed by Cardboards (1970–71) and Early Egyptians (1973–74), the latter of which is a series of wall reliefs and sculptures constructed from used boxes. He also printed on textiles using his solvent-transfer technique to make the Hoarfrosts (1974–76) and Spreads (1975–82), and in the Jammers (1975–76), created a series of colorful silk wall and floor works. For the most part, the Jammers comprise stitched fabrics in pure, solid colors, affixed to rattan poles or hung directly and loosely on the wall; whereas in works such as Sprout (1975) and Caliper(1976), the unadorned poles are the principal formal element, propped against the wall. Urban Bourbons (1988–95) focused on different methods of transferring images onto a variety of reflective metals, such as steel and aluminum. Additionally, throughout the 1990’s, Rauschenberg continued to utilize new materials while still working with rudimentary techniques, such as wet fresco, as in the Arcadian Retreat (1996) series, and the transfer of images by hand, as in the Anagrams (1995–2000). As part of his engagement with the latest technological innovations, he began making digital Iris prints and using biodegradable vegetable dyes in his transfer processes, underscoring his commitment to caring for the environment. In 2003 he began to work exclusively out of his home studio. He worked until his dying day, on May 12, 2008.

So hopefully we can now all understand the wonder that is Rauschenberg and appreciate the singularity of his contribution to the art world. Happy Birthday (belated as it is) Rauschenberg! You are missed!

James De La Vega, and an Apology

Hey readers! I just want to say that I am sorry about the delay the Miley Cyrus conclusion. I took a break from the computer for Labor Day, and had some job interviews this week, so I have been away from the computer for a bit. But be assured that I have not forgotten. IT IS COMING! I have most of what I want to discuss briefly drafted, I just feel that my readers deserve the best that I can give so I am not going to rush it. I hope you guys understand.

So until then enjoy looking at the work of James De La Vega.

James De La Vega

The sidewalks of New York City are La Vegas’s primary canvas. The native New Yorker, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has been scribbling inspirational quotes in chalk on the streets of the city for years. One of his most well-known messages “Become Your Dream” is an inspirational call to action, to live up to your potential. La Vega’s outside pieces could be categorized as a graffiti, but he and his fans prefer to regard him as a community-inspiring artist because of the motivating and encouraging nature of his work. However, the love of his fans could not prevent him from being convicted of vandalism for a mural he painted on a blank wall in the Bronx. He was offered one year’s probation in exchange for a guilty plea, but he refused to say he caused “damage” to the property (it was for the advancement of art of course!) and thus sentenced to 50 hours of community service. This incident did not tarnish his success, thankfully. He was the 1999 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant, his work has been featured in Christie’s auction house, and he has collaborated with Tory Burch to create a line of accessories that benefited the Tory Burch Foundation.  La Vega continues to work as a muralist and community-inspiring artist and until 2010 fans could visit his studio to have an intimate view of his work. Now he has an online portfolio and store , on http://www.cafepress.com/delavegaprophet, that you should all go visit.

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

James De La Vega

Jan Lievens

Self Portrait

Jan Lievens is an artist that history seems to have forgotten. He is best remembered as  a contemporary of Rembrandt, but the two were actually friends even shared a studio for five years! They developed a very similar style, probably from working so closely, and painted many of the same subjects. And while the two did have a heated competition going at one point, they remained friends long after they stopped working together around 1631, and in 1656 Rembrandt still owned many paintings by his friend. But “Rembrandt” is the name that we remember. Even people not familiar with art understand that Rembrandt is praised as an artistic genius and we even use his name when complementing an artist’s skill. But Lievens is an absolutely fascinating painter just as good and arguably better than Rembrandt, yet no one seems to know anything about him.

Back in his day, Lievens was judged to be the more talented artist. According to Arnold Houbraken, Jan was the son of a tapestry worker, and was trained by Joris Verschoten. At about the age of ten, he was sent to Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam for two full years. Lievens then, as a boy of twelve,  began his career independently in Leiden. He became somewhat of a celebrity because of his talent at such a young age. Specifically, his copy of  Cornelis van Haarlem’s  illustration Democriet & Herakliet, and a portrait of his mother Machtelt Jans van Noortzant, were greatly admired. This attracted the attention of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, around 1620, who bought a life-size painting of a young man reading by the light of a fire.

Jan Lievens- King Guy of Lusignan and King Saladin 1625

Shortly there after, Lievens collaborated with Rembrandt in a shared studio from about 1626 to 1631. Their competitive collaboration resulted in some two dozen paintings, drawings and etchings, and their style and subject matter were so similar scholars and critics had difficulty attributing works from this period. Though in Constantijn Huygens‘ assessment, Lievens was more inventive, yet less expressive than Rembrandt. During this time, Lievens’s paintings show a talent for painting in a life-size scale, and his dramatic half-length figure compositions suggest the influence of the Caravaggisti.  Often these large paintings were “historicizing portraits,” in which he placed his sitters in a scene from antiquity or the Bible.  The two artist split in 1631, when Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam and Lievens to England.

Jan Lievens “The Four Elements and Ages of Man Fire and Childhood”

Aspiring to become an internationally renowned court artist, Lievens left Leiden in 1632 to work at the court of Charles I, king of England. There, he was greatly impressed by the shimmering canvases of Anthony Van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens and developed an elegant, refined portrait style. With his new softer style, he moved to Antwerp in 1635, where he painted genre scenes and landscapes, as well as large-scale religious subjects for the Jesuits. At some point he married  Suzanna Colyn de Nole, the daughter of the sculptor Michiel Colyn. In 1644 Lievens relocated again, this time to Amsterdam, where his sophisticated international style of painting was greatly admired and greatly demanded. He received many major commissions, including paintings for the Amsterdam town hall and many Dutch political, business, and cultural leaders sat for his portraits and avidly collected his landscape paintings and drawings. Despite his achievements, Lievens faced financial difficulties at the end of his life, probably due to the Rampjaar, and he died in poverty.  After his death in 1674, his children were so afraid of inheriting nothing but debts, they appealed to the courts for the right to refuse the inheritance.

While Lievens enjoyed great artistic success in his lifetime, after his death his reputation was diminished by the shame of financial ruin. And because he was so traveled  and his style so diverse there were many  erroneous attributions of his best paintings to other artists, including Rembrandt. All of these factors obscured his considerable accomplishments, and so that is how Lievens came to be a great overlooked artist. But this just illustrates how we tend to write and rewrite history, so perhaps one day I’ll have my own museum and I can organize a show of painting by both Lievens and Rembrandt as young artists that would put their works side by side just as they were in their shared studio.

Jan Lievens, Profile Head of an Old Woman (“Rembrandt’s Mother”), ca. 1630

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Houbraken

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=225

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampjaar

Georges Braque

Ok so everybody knows Picasso. Somehow history has made something of a “god” out Picasso, not that he wasn’t an innovative pioneer of the modern art movement or anything, but was he really all that better than his contemporaries? I suggest that Picasso was no better or worse an artist than his good friend Georges Braque, whose work I just so happen to prefer.

Now I know you are probably wondering who George Braque is, and if you think you know him, than you only know the part of his collective works that are relevant to Picasso.  But Braque was just as radical  to the early 1900’s art scene as Picasso, and he shook the traditional methods of art creation just as fiercely.  Most biographies on Braque begin with his friendship to Picasso and how together their collaborative efforts produced Cubism, one of the most shocking and polarizing styles to ever be invented.  But Braque was an established painter in his own right before he ever met Picasso. Braque began as a house painter and decorator in his hometown in Le Havre. During the evenings he studied painting as the École des Beaux-Arts from about 1897 to 1899. In Paris, he apprenticed with a decorator and was awarded his certificate in 1902.  But the next year he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia (Impressionists) attending the Académie Humbert, also in Paris, and began to experiment with Impressionism. As such, Braque’s earliest paintings are soft and textural studies of light and shape and these are elements that would always be singular to his paintings even after he and Picasso later try to paint so similarly that no one could tell who painted which canvas.

In 1905 the Fauves (Beast) debuted their work in Paris. When Braque saw the show he began to experiment with this new style that used brilliant colors to represent emotional response. Braque worked closely with Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who shared Braque’s hometown of Le Havre, to develop a somewhat more subdued Fauvist style more in touch with his Impressionist roots. In May 1907, Braque successfully exhibited works of the Fauve style at the Salon des Indépendants; a very controversial series of art shows that scoffed at the “stuffy” academia conventions used to judge art choosing the device “No jury nor awards” (Sans jury ni récompense). The same year, Braque’s style began a slow evolution as he became influenced by Paul Cézanne, who had died the year before. No doubt Braque saw  Cezanne’s work when they were exhibited in Paris for the first time in a large-scale, museum-like retrospective in September 1907 at the Salon d’Automne. This exhibit would greatly affect the avant-garde artists of Paris, foreshadowing  the advent of Cubism.

“House at l’estaque,” Georges Braque, 1908

“La guitare,” Georges Braque, 1909

In 1908-09, still before Braque was working with Picasso, the painter began to experiment with geometry and simultaneous perspective, the curious method of painting subjects in at least two angles in a physically impossible manner. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects. His experiments were a challenge to the most standard of artistic conventions: perspective. For example the painting Houses at l’Estaque, Braque reduced an architectural structure to a geometric form approximating a cube, yet rendered its shading so that it looked both flat and three-dimensional by fragmenting the image. He was well in to his study when, finally, in 1909 Braque and Picasso meet and begin to work collaboratively. Both artist were interested in Cézanne, and perspective, and as I mentioned earlier, the two went beyond merely working together bouncing ideas off the other; they lived together in a studio and endeavored to paint in a style so radical and devoid of human signature, that no one could distinguish their work. Art Historian Ernst Gombrich described their Cubism as “the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture— that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas.” And I think this quote from Braque is also a good one to describe his working relationship with Picasso: ” The things that Picasso and I said to one another during those years will never be said again, and even if they were, no one would understand them anymore. It was like being roped together on a mountain.”

“Man with a Guitar” Georges Braque, 1911-13

Nature morte (Fruit Dish, Ace of Clubs), Georges Braque, 1913

But the collaboration did not diminish Braque’s unique contributions to Cubism, and as history reminds us certainly did not tarnish Picasso’s popularity. Though there are similarities in their paintings and other works, there are differences also. A comparison of a series of works over the years the artists worked together and after reveals that the effect of Braque’s encounter with Picasso accelerated and intensified his exploration of Cézanne’s ideas, rather than to divert his thinking in any essential way. Braque’s main subjects are still-lives in which he abstracts the perspective and color of musical instruments, stairs, fruit, architecture, and other traditional subjects. In these paintings Braque is still clinging to Impressionist and Fauvist style of light and shape, color and form, thought and emotion. Picasso, who was greatly inspired by Gauguin, African Masks and Iberian sculpture, used the Cubism method to abstract people, movement and action. A great way to distinguish the two artists is to consider that Picasso celebrates animation, while Braque celebrates contemplation.

So yes, in the early 20th century, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso invented Cubism and shook the foundations of Western art. But Braque’s story did not begin with Picasso, nor does it end with him.  In 1914 Braque enlisted with the French Army to fight in WWI, ending his partnership with Picasso and his painting endeavors for a time. In May 1915, Braque received a severe head injury in battle at Carency and suffered temporary blindness, requiring a long period of recuperation. In 1916 Braque resumed painting, alone and he began to moderate the harsh abstraction of Cubism. He developed a more personal style characterized by brilliant color, textured surfaces, and—after his relocation to the Normandy seacoast—the reappearance of the human figure. But, he painted many still-life subjects during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure. He is quoted saying that he is drawn to sell-lifes “because in the still-life you havea tactile, I might almost say a manual space… This answered to the hankering I have always had to touch things and not merely see them… In tactile space you measure the distance separating you from the object, whereas in visual space you measure the distance separating things from each other. This is what led me, long ago, from landscape to still-life.” His devotion to still-life subjects gave an introvered meditation feel to his works after the war that was criticsed sometimes for not being political enough. In the 1930s the rise of fascism brought new urgency to questions of aesthetics and politics, and art critics want to art that spoke to reactions from the war. Picasso’s Guernica (1937) seeks to find a resolution to questions that entered mainstream consciousness and it is works like this that perhaps satisfied critics’ need for sensationalize and thus gave Picasso leverage in publicity and fame. Braque’s fractured still lifes and bourgeois interiors remained emphatically inward-looking as Picasso work became more and more controversial for political subject matter that proved to sell more news papers and art shows than Braque quieter abstract of method and form. I find it odd that it would be Picasso that turned into the political artist when it was Braque that served in the war, but is a matter for another post.

Anyway, it my opinion that Braque’s later paintings were not as separate from outside events as historians and critics would have you believe. While his attention to the private, secluded realm of the still life suggests disengagement with historical and political circumstances, the paintings themselves convey a more complex narrative. The artist’s exactingly internal gaze was precisely what made his work relevant to questions of art, engagement and responsibility to contemporary issues. And I believe that scholars would benefit the cannon by exploring this further. Oh and I am not the only one who feels this way, follow the link!: http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/24573.aspx

Braque died on August 31, 1963, in Paris. He is buried in the cemetery of the Church of St. Valery in Varengeville-sur-Mer, Normandy, whose windows he designed. The artist had continued to work during the remainder of his life, producing a considerable number of paintings, graphics, and sculptures. In his last years, Braque worked with prints and lithographs with Fernand Mourlot (who he introduced to Picasso) and most of the book illustrations he created during the 1940’s and ’50s were produced at the Mourlot Studios.  In 1962, a year before his death, Braque was still working and collaborating to make new innovations in art, this time with master printmaker Aldo Crommelynck. His last works are a series of etchings and aquatints titled “L’Ordre des Oiseaux” (“The Order of Birds”) which was accompanied by the poet Saint-John Perse’s text. These prints are dreamlike and are praised for honoring truisms related to birds as spiritual  and sacred.

Here’s another good link (but very dated) http://www.martinries.com/article1995GB.htm

And here’s the rest of the stuff I looked at.

http://www.phillipscollection.org/exhibitions/2013-06-08-exhibition-braque.aspx

http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/24573.aspx