Braque, GeorgesBirds in Flight

Birds in Flight
Coloured lithograph by Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Braque was a skilled painter who could employ imagery in the same way that a poet uses words: to create visual sensations.
 
He was born in Argenteuil, France in 1882, the son of a house decorator. Braque moved to Paris in 1900 to study the Fauve artists. In 1907 he met Picasso and the pair collaborated, developing a movement which we would later know as Cubism. Cubism was an avant-garde art movement, initiated by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, which revolutionised European painting and sculpture. Their interpretation of the form and composition of their artistic subjects changed the way in which objects could be visualised and represented in painting and art. This highly influential art movement took France by storm between the years 1907 and 1911.
 
Braque was severely injured after he fought in World War 1 and did not resume painting until 1917. Drifting away from Cubism, he developed his own, original style which concentrated on bright colour and textured surfaces.
 
The simplicity of this lithograph means that it is often misunderstood – the three floating shapes echo the movement of a bird in flight, upwards and diagonally across the painting from left to right. The sky is inked-in blue and the birds are comprised of empty space, making it unclear whether it is the birds or the sky that is the subject: “All my life, my great concern has been to paint space – visual space, tactile space, manual space.” G.B. Thus, the subject of the picture remains anonymous. This is sometimes called metamorphic confusion and it is one of the fundaments of poetry.