Georges Braque -  Atelier VIII, 1954/55 - Colección Masaveu, Oviedo - © VBK Wien, 2007/08

VIENNA - The Bank Austria Kunstforum presents a large-scale retrospective on Georges Braque for 2008 as an act of homage to this major pathfinder of the avant-garde. It will not only be the first retrospective in Central Europe after a period of twenty years, but the very first presentation of Georges Braque in Austria – 45 years after his death. The exhibition Georges Braque – The Lyricism of Geometry will take this as an opportunity of (re-)discovering his extraordinary oeuvre. On display through 1 March, 2009.

Georges Braque - Les Usines de Rio Tinto à l’Estaque, 1910 Musée d’art moderne de Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d’Ascq, © VBK Wien, 2007/08Around 80 paintings and the chief printed graphics will indicate Braque’s special way into the European modern movement and illustrate the uniqueness of his painting adventure: Braque among the Fauves, Braque the methodical, Braque the inventor of papier collé, Braque’s borrowing from decoration painting, in which he was apprenticed, Braque the master of “modern” still life and, last but not least, Braque the “lyrical constructor”.

All these components are to be honored equally in the exhibition, thus tracing an artistic oeuvre that is far more complex and exciting than reducing it to his insider relationship with Picasso and the fateful identification of his work with cubism – something that art historians have often been led to do. However, adequate scope has of course to be given to the path-breaking cubist works; cubism after all remains the groundbreaking discovery for Braque himself. It enabled him, as he said, “not just to reproduce an anecdotal fact, but a pictorial fact” (fait pictural).

Why did painting mainly become autonomous through the still life motif ? How did the definition of still life and its relationship to reality transform Braque in the course of his artistic development and in the end advance him to become the master of modern still life? These are the key questions addressed by the exhibition. It aims to trace how Braque started out from the form repertoire of analytic cubism, and how a vein of consolidation and the impression of classicism noticeably asserts itself during the twenties and thirties. The partial reintroduction of naturalist forms, the beauty of line and contour and the emphasis of the value inherent in color as material produce a measured form of cubism with the tactile sensuousness so typical of Braque and so entirely alien to purism.

Georges Braque Paysage à La Ciotat, 1907 Kunststiftung Merzbacher, Küsnacht. © VBK, Wien, 2008The exhibition will be devoted to the “complete” Braque, thus also his late work, which has suffered a comparatively strong recession into the background in appreciation history. It will therefore cast light for instance on the visionary picture series of the “Ateliers”, in which Braque most closely approaches his goal of the greatest possible condensation of material and space, space as a haptic experience. The Ateliers are without doubt the culmination of the fascinating late work of Georges Braque. Braque never ceased to urge on the development of his ideas, with a sense of the metamorphosis which nullifies the generally accepted differentiations not only between figuration and abstraction, but also between the genres.

The Bank Austria Kunstforum is the top address for art lovers, especially for classical modern painting of the post-war years. Every year, 300,000 people visit the temporary exhibitions held in this private institution, shows that are unique across the globe. Leading museums present their works here as well as private collectors. Whether van Gogh or Miró, Kandinsky or Chagall, Warhol or Lichtenstein, the great names of art are united here. Since 2000, there have also been exhibitions devoted to contemporary artists.

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