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This installation features works by Georges Braque, offering a perspective into the artist’s exploration of the tension between painterly surfaces and illusion. The earliest works in the focus show reveal Braque’s Cubist era-concerns for facture and the possibilities of collage. The later works respond to these pre-World War I innovations. In still lifes and images of the model in the studio, Braque complicated the connection between texture and representation using trompe l’oeil techniques and creating surfaces activated with sand, gravel, and other substances. The artist’s exploration of this relationship poses interesting questions about appearance and reality in modern art. Moreover, the works’ negotiation of abstraction and representation compound these questions, demonstrating the complexity and provocative dynamism of Braque’s oeuvre.
While undoubtedly signs of Braque’s modernist tendencies, the works in this exhibition also manifest Braque’s attention to the past. Each develops a traditional subject or theme from the history of art—landscape, music, still-life, and the artist’s model—but Braque’s formal approaches undermine many of the established conventions. The connection between modernism and history highlights the Janus-faced nature of much avant-garde art in the first 40 years of the 20th century.
Georges Braque (France, 1882-1963), Still Life with Pears, Lemons and Almonds, 1927, oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 24 inches. Isabelle and Scott Black Collection, 3.1995.1