Tea with Braque

A visit to the Grand Palais, for whatever the exhibition or show, would not be complete without a stop next door for a goûter on the magestic pillared terrace of the Petite Palais. Another treat about living in Paris is their 4PM-approximate ritual of something sweet: un goûter. It’s some sugary sister offset of the English tea time tradition. Whatever the reason, it’s an excuse to indulge in a lavender infused crème brulée and jasmine tea with a side of hot chocolate and chantilly (french whipped cream on crack).

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The exhibition was overwhelming. The retrospective of the twentieth century artist who has always resided slightly in Picasso’s shadow–despite having worked side by side in their exploration of cubism–was one of the most comprehensive shows I have ever seen with a survey of his studies in Fauvism to analytical cubism and abstract expressionism.

Maybe it was the expectation that the show would be held under the soaring glass vault ceilings of the light flooded Grand Palais, but descending into the underground space of the establishment felt somewhat suffocating.

The retrospective was a comprehensive exploration of Braque’s work, yet by displaying his paintings–all of which featured a similar color palette depicting studies of fractured and splintered deconstructed shapes–in such close proximity led to a loss of potency and a feeling of becoming lost in his creations, and not in a positive way.

Years later, Andy Warhol would put together a series of images of a car crash in dramatic repetition to convey the desensitization created by the media… when something is scene again and again, no matter how beautiful or shocking, it loses its impact.

But as the rooms of the exhibition space opened up into later studies of Braque’s work, and with it, a more diverse exploration of his studies in abstract expressionism and realism, the feeling of suppression eased and was replaced with a sense of wonder one feels before some inaccessible genius. In the end, enduring the swirling intensity of Braque’s earlier explorations of Cubsim was necessary in understanding the evolution of his creation and its unparalleled effect on the avant-garde movement in the twentieth century.

For anyone that couldn’t make it to the exhibition, I managed to take some stealth shots before getting chased out by an eighty year old museum guard:

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Paysage à L’Estaque (II) 1906-1907

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Guitar and Fruit Dish 1909. Analytical Cubism

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Still Life with a Violin, 1911

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Nature Morte, 1912

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Fruit Dish, 1913

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Violen et Pipe le Quotidien (Violin and Pipe), 1913

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Rhum et Guitar (Rhum and Guitar), 1918

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Woman with a Mandolin (study) c. 1922-1923

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Fruit on a Tablecloth with a Fruit Dish, 1925

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The Round Table, 1929

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The Bottle of Marc, 1930

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Lying Nude (The Bather IX), 1932

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The Duet, 1937

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Vanitas, 1939

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Nature Morte au Crâne (Still Life with Skull) c. 1943

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Atelier V, 1949

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La Barque sur la Grève (The Boat on the Shore), 1960.

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La Sarcleuse, 1961/1963.

“Considerée comme la dernièr peinture de Braque, laissée sur le chevalet après sa mort, La Sarcleuse clôt le cycle des derniers paysages. Signe noir et funèbre abandonné dans les blés dorés (Braque disparait un 31 août 1963), elle est l’ultime emblème d’une création placée sous le signe de l’éternité.”

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