Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
This small, dark and dense painting well exemplifies the revolutionary changes that took place in art during the first years of the 20th century. With Picasso, George Braque is considered the founder of Cubism, the 20th century movement that radically transformed the way we look at a painting.
Braque stated that “We are all descendants of Cezanne” and certainly he and Picasso fully absorbed his lessons as Cubism became another step in the process of freeing painting from the mere imitation of nature. Space, form, color and shape, that is the formal elements of a painting, became the primary subject of art. How far we are from the illusionistic worlds of deHeem in the 17th century or Walter Goodman who painted Printseller’s Window a mere 20 years before Braque painted this still life.
Here is the familiar Cubist grid of color and form and the geometric fascination with intricate spatial structures. Narrow depth, achieved through flat, angular overlapping planes, compressed space and a limited palette of browns and blacks, grays and whites, are typical of this phase of Cubism.
The “external” subject, a still life, is recognizable. But only through close scrutiny do we find the pipe, a goblet, a card and even a newspaper whose only clue is the lettering we see in the painting.
The Gallery picture is a classic example of Cubism’s interest in the flat surface of the canvas and the increasing rejection of the 3-dimensional illusion of objects rendered in deep space. It is also a prototypical example of Braque’s singular interest in a flat surface animated by line, texture and a narrow range of color.
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