what is the key element of art for the portuguese painting by george braque
To understand Cubism it helps to go back to Cézanne’s still life paintings or even further, to the Renaissance. Let me use an example that worked nicely in the classroom. I was lecturing, trying to untangle Cubism while drinking incresingly cold coffee from a paper cup. I set the cup on the desk in the front of the room and said, “If I were a Renaissance artist in mid-15th century Italy painting that cup on that table, I would position myself at particular point in space and construct the surrounding objects and space frozen in that spot and from that single perspective. On the other hand, if this was the late 19th century and I was Cézanne, I might allow myself to open this view up quite a bit. Perhaps I would focus on, and record, the perceptual changes of shape and line that result when I shift my weight from one leg to the other or when I lean in toward the cup to get a closer look. I might even allow myself to render slightly around the far side of the paper cup since, as Cézanne, I am interested in vision and memory working together. Finally, if I were Braque or Picasso in the early 20th century, I would want to express even more on the canvas. I would not be satisfied with the limiting conventions of Renaissance perspective nor even with the initial explorations of the master Cézanne.
As a Cubist, I want to express my total visual understanding of the paper coffee cup. I want more than the Renaissance painter or even Cézanne, I want to express the entire cup simultaneously on the static surface of the canvas since I can hold all that visual information in my memory. I want to render the cup’s front, its sides, its back, and its inner walls, its bottom from both inside and out, and I want to do this on a flat canvas. How can this be done? The answer is provided by The Portuguese. In this canvas, everything was fractured. The guitar player and the dock was just so many pieces of broken form, almost broken glass. By breaking these objects into smaller elements, Braque and Picasso are able to overcome the unified singularity of an object and instead transform it into an object of vision. At this point the class began to look a little confused, so I turned back to the paper cup and began to tear it into pieces (I had finished the coffee). If I want to be able to show you both the back and front and inside and outside simultaneously, I can fragment the object. Basically, this is the strategy of the Cubists. – from smarthistory
The painting is one of the earliest cubist paintings. While it is frequently mentioned in monographs, textbooks and articles on the artist as well as Cubism, this painting has never been a source of serious controversy. Most of his paintings consist of still lives which are remarkable for their low-key colour harmonies, robust construction, and serene, meditative quality. Cubism is the technique that was used in the creation of the Portuguese painting. Georges Braque introduced this technique of painting in 1911. The painting features stencilled letters BAL and numerals under them. The painter first introduced the still life technique in 1910 before introducing the Cubism style.
While working on this painting, Georges Braque combined the two techniques to come up with the Portuguese. The stencilled numbers and letters in the art are the assertions of realistic intentions of the Cubism technique. In the painting, the stencilled or written letters across the surface represent the most conclusive ways of emphasizing the picture’s two-dimensional character and they also help stress the quality of the artwork. The Portuguese painting marks an interesting stage and point in the development of Georges’ arts. At the top right-hand corner of the painting, there are D BAL letters and numerals under them. Although Georges had included various numbers as well as letters into the painting, they were the representational elements of the art.
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A key figure in modern French painting, the artist Georges Braque is chiefly remembered for his abstract art, notably his pioneering work on Cubism – one of the most revolutionary and influential movements of modern art – which he founded in the late 1900s in collaboration with Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Initially a follower of Fauvism, Braque was greatly influenced by the work of Paul Cezanne, which led him to initiate a type of prototype Cubist painting in landscapes he completed at L’Estaque. After this he worked closely with Picasso with whom he formulated Analytical Cubism and later, Synthetic Cubism. Among Braque‘s most notable paintings are: Houses at L’Estaque (1908, Berne); Big Nude (1907-8, private collection); The Portuguese (1911, Kunstmuseum, Basel); Man with a Guitar (1911, Museum of Modern Art NY); The Musician (1917-18, Kunstmuseum, Basel); Fruit on a Tablecloth with a Fruit Dish 1925, (Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris); and Woman with a Mandolin (1937, MoMA, NY). One of the great abstract painters of the 20th century, Braque was exceptionally innovative in his early career, producing works involving collage, papier colle, printmaking and sculpture. He was also influenced by Primitivism/Primitive Art. His favourite genre, however, remained still life (nature morte), as exemplified by numerous Cubist works, his Gueridon series (1927-30) and his Atelier series (1949-55). Indeed he must be among the best still life painters of the modern age. He was associated with the Ecole de Paris.
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During the period between the wars, Braque exhibited a freer, more relaxed style of Cubism, intensifying his color use and a looser rendering of objects. However, he still remained committed to the cubist method of simultaneous perspective and fragmentation. In contrast to Picasso, who continuously reinvented his style of painting, producing both representational and cubist images, and incorporating surrealist ideas into his work, Braque continued in the Cubist style, producing luminous, other-worldly still life and figure compositions. By the time of his death in 1963, he was regarded as one of the elder statesmen of the School of Paris, and of modern art.
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.