the development of cubism: picasso & braque

I’ve always liked cubism, but I was most familiar with Picasso’s work. What I didn’t know was that the development of cubism was really a creative collaboration between two artists. While Picasso gained incredible fame and wealth, and became indeed the first celebrity artist, the other one is largely forgotten outside of the art world: Georges Braque.

Braque and Picasso were actually inseparable friends and worked closely together, so much so that it can be difficult to tell their work apart at times.

There’s a beautiful writeup on their relationship on the MFA website.

Picasso and Braque forged a relationship that was part intimate friendship, part rivalry, and part two-man excursion into the unknown. The two artists were constantly in each other’s studio, scrutinizing each other’s work while challenging, motivating, and encouraging each other. Picasso said, “Almost every evening, either I went to Braque’s studio or Braque came to mine. Each of us had to see what the other had done during the day.” Through this artistic collaboration, Picasso and Braque invented Cubism, a new style of painting that shattered traditional forms of artistic representation.

The article continues to describe the differences in character between these two men: Braque being incredibly private, reserved, reasonable, Picasso being unpredictable, outspoken, reveling in public recognition.

Both were heavily inspired by the work of Paul Cezanne and African art. While both of them developed cubism, they each took their creative expression into very different directions: Braque cared about balance and harmony, Picasso about disruption.

Their friendship and creative collaboration lasted until the fall of 1914, when Braque enlisted in the French Army in WWI.

If this is of interest to you, I highly recommend you read Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso on the MFA website.

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