Georges Braque

Georges Braque was a painter living in France in the 20th century. He was the son of a decorative painter and had planned to become a decorative painter in the future as well. He went to school at École des Beaux-Arts to study artistic painting and later moved to France to further his painting education and career. In Braque’s early years of painting, he dabbled in a variety of styles such as impressionism and fauvism, gradually leaning more and more towards cubism. Eventually, Braque began incorporating cubism into many of his paintings, including landscapes and portraits, and was on the forefront of this stylistic movement along with Pablo Picasso. Exploring the aspects of cubism is what inspired Braque to venture into the worlds of analytic cubism and synthetic cubism.

One of Braque’s earliest works to incorporate cubism was his landscape painting entitled Houses at L’Estaque. The painting was created in the early twentieth century and depicts abstracted houses, trees, mountains and hills. The objects in the painting are made of geometric shapes to simplify forms, the use of lines, and a neutral color palette, all components of analytic cubism. Inspired by Picasso’s cubist works, Braque’s Houses at L’Estaque is a piece that was created within a series of landscapes in order to begin his exploration of the simplification of shapes in the natural world, also known as cubism.


Houses at L’Estaque by Georges Braque

Another subcategory of cubism is synthetic cubism, which is essentially collage. Collage can be defined as the use of different found materials to create a cohesive piece. Violin and Pipe is a well known collage by Braque. This collage consists of various materials cut out into various shapes and sizes layered on top of one another to create something that vaguely suggests a violin. Surrounding the cut-out found materials are marks of charcoal scribbled around the collage with a circle drawn around the whole piece. Surrounding the circle are more charcoal marks. In this piece, Braque takes parts of a violin, separates them among the different materials, rearranges them and is left with an abstracted violin.


Violin and Pipe by Georges Braque

Georges Braque is remembered for leading the cubist movement in the twentieth century, along with Picasso, with their cubist paintings and collages. Their developed cubist style paved the way for new styles soon to come such as futurism and many more.




“Georges Braque Biography.” A&E Networks Television, 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Oct. 2016

“Cubism Movement, Artists and Major Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

“Georges Braque Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.

“Most Popular Paintings.” Vioilin and Pipe, 1913, by Georges Braque. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.


Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. He is known as the most influential figure in 20th century art. He is also known for being a co-creator of Cubism alongside Georges Braque. Unlike most artists, Picasso found fame and fortune during his lifetime.

In the early 20th century, Picasso moved to Paris to open his own art studio. The first period of his career lasted from 1901 to 1904 and was called the “Blue Period”. This name was given because of the color blue that dominated his paintings during these years. During the Blue Period, a deeply depressed Picasso painted scenes of poverty, isolation and anguish. One of Picasso’s most famous paintings from the Blue Period is the “Blue Nude” (Figure 1) completed in 1903. The back perspective to the figure in the painting evokes a feeling of disengagement and rejection. This painting shows Picasso’s talent for evoking the deepest emotions using just one color.

The second period of his career lasted from 1904 to 1906 when his career was more prosperous and he had a more optimistic outlook on life. This was called the “Rose Period” because of the warmer colors, including beiges, pinks and reds found in his paintings. One of the most famous paintings from the Rose Period is “Gertrude Stein” (Figure 2) created in 1905-06. This was a portrait of Gertrude Stein, who was a patron of Picasso at the time. In this portrait, he reduces her body into parts, which could be a foreshadowing to his adoption of Cubism in later years. (“Gertrude Stein”).

In 1907, Picasso painted “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (Figure 3) which was “a chilling depiction of five nude prostitutes, abstracted and distorted with sharp geometric features and stark blotches of blues, greens and grays” (“Pablo Picasso Biography”). Today, this painting is considered to be the sole inspiration of Cubism. The distorted forms in these women’s bodies challenge the idealized representation of female beauty in the fine arts (“Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”).


Figure 1 “Blue Nude”


Figure 2 “Gertrude Stein”


Figure 3 “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”


“Gertrude Stein.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

“Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.” Yale University, 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

“Pablo Picasso Biography.” Ed. Editors. A&E Television Networks, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.



Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, a small town in northern France. Matisse studied law in Paris and was arranged by his father to become a law office clerk once he finished school. However, while recovering from appendicitis in 1889, he discovered his passion for painting. His mother brought him art supplies during this time of recuperation. She was a painter as well and it is apparent that Matisse learned from his mother and looked to her for inspiration. In 1891, Henri Matisse began his formal art education at the Académie Julian, but left due to their limited teaching structure. He later attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris after submitting multiple applications. Matisse had a difficult time finding his place in the art world and stood out as a sort of outcast amongst other artists. A critical turning point for his art came in 1904, after a trip to Saint-Tropez. His paintings shifted from a traditional Flemish style to Fauvism. He introduces bright colors, strong brush strokes and distorted images into his work. His paintings become more emotionally driven rather than searching to depict the world accurately and realistically. Some of Henri Matisse’s most well-know works come from this time period.


The Open Window, Collioure, Oil on canvas , 1905

Viewers are less exposed to Matisse’s art that follows in 1914 during World War I. During this time he traded the bright hues for layers of dark color and dense pigment. Matisse wanted to enlist in the war, but was rejected due to a heart condition. Many of his friends were fighting in the war and he felt helpless. His reactions can be seen through his work. Matisse began to create paintings labeled as “more ancient and more modern” (Lifson). Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg is one of Matisse’s wartime paintings. Throughout this painting, he uses muted, dark colors. He also scratches the surface with the end of his paintbrush to create lines around the figure.


Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg, 1914

Henri Matisse’s work changed with his environment. His responses to places and events are clear in his work. His career as an artist was long-lasting and we are left with six decades of influential work. Matisse produced art through the final years of his life and proves to be one of the most prominent and instrumental artists in directing modern art.

References Editors. “Henri Matisse – Painter, Sculptor –” Henri Matisse Biography. A&E Television Networks, 8 July 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Biography of Henri Matisse.” Henri Matisse. N.p., 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.

Lifson, Edward. “A Wartime Matisse Full Of Pain And Beauty : NPR.” A Wartime Matisse Full of Pain and Beauty. N.p., 13 June 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

Sternau, Susan A. Henri Matisse. Ed. Elizabeth Loonan. New York: Todtri Production Limited, 1997. Print.