Salon d’Automne Rejects Braque’s Cubist Works Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The Salon d’Automne’s rejection of six paintings by Georges Braque led to the launch of cubism, the most revolutionary art movement of the twentieth century.

Summary of Event

In February of 1907, Georges Braque’s work was a success when it was presented at the Salon des Indépendants Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Braque caused a stir with his Fauve-like creations such as The Port of Antwerp (1906), The Port of Ciotat (1907), and Little Bay at La Ciotat (1907). The Fauves, Fauvism Art movements;Fauvism or “wild beasts,” a group of prominent artists including Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Albert Marquet, and Othon Friesz, used pure, wild colors for expressive purposes; Braque, an admirer of the Fauves’ work, emulated their style. Less than two years after Braque’s success at the Salon des Indépendants, however, his newer canvases would be rejected by these same men, who objected to Braque’s evolving Cézanne-influenced style. Art movements;cubism Salon d’Automne[Salon dautomne] Painting;cubism Cubism [kw]Salon d’Automne Rejects Braque’s Cubist Works (Summer, 1908)[Salon dAutomne Rejects Braques Cubist Works (Summer, 1908)] [kw]Braque’s Cubist Works, Salon d’Automne Rejects (Summer, 1908)[Braques Cubist Works, Salon dAutomne Rejects (Summer, 1908)] [kw]Cubist Works, Salon d’Automne Rejects Braque’s (Summer, 1908) Art movements;cubism Salon d’Automne[Salon dautomne] Painting;cubism Cubism [g]France;Summer, 1908: Salon d’Automne Rejects Braque’s Cubist Works[02150] [c]Arts;Summer, 1908: Salon d’Automne Rejects Braque’s Cubist Works[02150] Braque, Georges Kahnweiler, Daniel-Henry Vauxcelles, Louis Matisse, Henri Cézanne, Paul Picasso, Pablo

After the death of Paul Cézanne in 1906 and the exhibition of a huge number of Cézanne’s works at the Salon d’Automne in 1907, Braque became a fervent disciple of the great post-Impressionist. In fact, at L’Estaque, a coastal village near Marseilles where Cézanne had completed many of his post-Impressionistic, architectonic landscapes, Braque began emphasizing, in the manner of Cézanne, geometric construction and color not as emotive or decorative forces but as means of creating an intellectual aura through strong, simplified planes. Braque’s Terrace of Hotel Mistral (1907), Terrace of Hotel Mistral (Braque) for example, demonstrates his fondness for Cézanne’s conception of nature as a series of planes, cones, and spheres and for the artist’s use of heavily outlined forms with a great deal of height or with an upward, thrusting placement.

A further influence on Braque’s earlier, accepted Fauve-like style was his introduction in the spring of 1907 to Pablo Picasso at Picasso’s studio in rue Ravignan, where Picasso was coincidentally completing his revolutionary Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. According to Jean Leymarie, Braque was overwhelmed by Picasso’s similar Cézannesque style, his decimation of a traditional, naturalistic approach to subject matter, and his stylistic influences, which included Hellenistic painting, Iberian sculpture, African masks, and works from Oceania. By the time Braque painted his Standing Nude Standing Nude (Braque) in December, 1907, heavier volumes and thick outlines, foreshortened space, a toned-down palette of grays and browns, distinct anatomical distortions, and the rhythms of African art were visible in his work.

In the early summer of 1908, when Braque returned for the third time to L’Estaque to paint landscapes, his style was radically different from the one he had demonstrated at the Salon des Indépendants in February, 1907. His Houses at L’Estaque, Houses at L’Estaque (Braque)[Houses at Lestaque] for example, reflected a structural approach to landscape, a dissociation of form and color, multiple volumes with numerous vanishing points, planes of darks truncating light areas, and a palette of muted purple-grays, greens, and warm ochres—features resembling Picasso’s earlier style. Therefore, Braque was angry and disappointed when, after he had enthusiastically decided to show his six unorthodox canvases at the Salon d’Automne in late summer of 1908 instead of at the Salon des Indépendants (where almost anyone could exhibit new work), his work was promptly rejected. Although two paintings were “reclaimed”—the prerogative of each voting juror if he chose—Braque withdrew entirely from the Salon d’Automne.

Shortly thereafter, Braque accepted the invitation of a friend, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, a leading German art dealer, to exhibit his works. Thus, from November 9 to November 28, 1908, Braque displayed twenty-seven works in a one-man show at Kahnweiler’s gallery. The exhibition gave the French public its first glimpse of the movement that would soon be labeled cubism. Matisse criticized Braque’s strange paintings with “cubes,” and Louis Vauxcelles, a famous Parisian art critic of the period, derided the paintings, calling Braque’s human subjects deformed and metallic-looking.

In a review published November 14, 1908, Vauxcelles remarked that Braque “despises form and reduces everything, landscapes and figures and houses, to geometric patterns, to cubes.” In reviewing an exhibit of Braque’s works at the Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1909, Vauxcelles again described Braque’s work in terms of “cubic oddities” and as a style of “Peruvian Cubism”—the first use of the word “cubism” itself. Braque’s Harbor in Normandy (produced in the early spring of 1909), Harbor in Normandy (Braque) one of the two Braque paintings exhibited at the show, illustrates clearly his new style of cubist fragmentation. Not until later was this style associated with Picasso, although the public grew to associate cubism primarily with Picasso (probably because of the Spaniard’s more dominant, aggressive nature, which tended to eclipse the more retiring, less socially forceful personality of Braque).

Significance

Thanks to Braque, still life Painting;still life Still life paintings as a genre of painting regained the prominence it had enjoyed during the period of Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. Suddenly, the human world and humankind’s needs were elevated to the status of fit subjects for art. Receptacles of food and drink, newspapers, playing cards, musical instruments, and books became prime subject matter, as they had been during the seventeenth century’s golden age of the still life and in later works by the famous genre painter Jean Siméon Chardin. Works such as Still Life with Musical Instruments (1908) and Guitar and Fruit Dish (1909) are examples of Braque’s revitalization of the still life.

Braque’s rejection by the Salon d’Automne in 1908 indirectly gave birth to cubism, especially the earlier Cézanne phase, or so-called analytical phase, which began in 1909. The analytical style is characterized by the depiction of pictorial planes that are opened, with a concomitant buildup of space and volume, by fragmentation of form (or subject matter), often with a series of crisscrossing, moving verticals and diagonals, and by an avoidance of color, with a strong emphasis on multiple perspectives of an object from diverse angles and on refracted light from multiple sources. Examples of Braque’s works of this phase include Glass on a Table (1910), Violin and Palette (1909-1910), and Piano and Mandola (1909-1910).

Budding cubism also intensified the Braque-Picasso bond, which was an unusual happening in the art world. This meeting of two great artistic minds gave birth to the painting ideology that shook the early twentieth century. Between 1909 and 1914, Braque and Picasso frequently lived near each other; in fact, the two artists, upon returning to Paris in the late summer of 1909, had studios together in Montmartre. During the summer of 1910 they worked apart (Braque at L’Estaque again and Picasso at Cadaquès on the Costa Brava), but their collaboration throughout the rest of the year produced works that were very similar.

In the summer of 1911, Braque and Picasso painted together at Ceret in the French Pyrenees. The heavily abstracted works of Braque—for example, The Portuguese (1911) and Woman Reading (1911)—appear almost indistinguishable from Picasso’s works of the period, such as his famous painting dedicated to their mutual art dealer, Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1910). The only significant stylistic differences between the artists at the time are found in Picasso’s emphasis on form and on the human body (unlike Braque’s spatial concerns) and his love of browns and earth tones (in contrast to Braque’s use of greens).

Later, Braque even experimented with new materials worthy of artistic expression, creating a whole new art form, papier collé. Scraps of wallpaper, matchbooks, pieces of cardboard, and string intermingled with the drawing medium; real scraps coexisted with illusory sketched objects in works by Braque such as Fruit Dish and Glass (1912) and Still Life with Playing Cards (1913). Picasso, sharing Braque’s art ideology, created the first collage in 1912 by adding a piece of oilcloth to a painting, a technique he later extended to include the use of cards and stamps.

As important as cubism was in the art world, the movement led by Braque and Picasso was only one aspect of a broad cultural revolution that saw similar experimentation occur in almost every intellectual discipline. Cubism found parallels in the novel spatiotemporal explorations of the writer James Joyce, the composers Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky, and even the physicist Albert Einstein. Schoenberg’s adoption of the twelve-tone chromatic scale and Stravinsky’s elevation of atonality and polytonality were analogous to the breaking of a traditional-historical presentation of reality in the works of Braque and Picasso. Joyce’s and Einstein’s very different experiments with multiple time and movement were both in many ways similar to the cubists’ use of simultaneity of vision (in which many facets of an object are presented simultaneously from diverse angles). Sigmund Freud’s perception of divided consciousness also relates well to the principles of fragmentation implicit in cubism.

Cubism (and the works of Braque) also influenced other famous art groups and artists of the modern period. The English cubist movement led to the formulation of vorticism, Italian artist Umberto Boccioni incorporated cubistic philosophy into his school of Futurism, and Fernand Léger experimented with pipe-shaped cubism, which he labeled “tubism.” Other leading international painters and sculptors who were influenced by cubism include Paul Klee of the Blaue Reiter group of German expressionists; Kazimir Malevich, a Russian cubist who formulated Suprematism; Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist whose theories introduced “neoplasticism”; Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi; and Russian sculptor Aleksandr Archipenko. Frenchman Marcel Duchamp created a scandal at the 1913 New York Armory Show with the “dynamic cubism” of his Nude Descending a Staircase.

Cubism seeped into other artistic media in the early twentieth century as well. Cubistic theatrical sets and costumes designed by Picasso became stylish, and cubism influenced much early twentieth century architecture and interior design, including the design of furniture and textiles. Cubism’s influence was also seen in fashions, graphics, typography, cartoons, and even cuisine. David Smith’s huge, environmental sculptural-cubism works and Andy Warhol’s pop art carried Braque’s ideology into postmodern times.

In 1922, Braque was finally invited to exhibit at the Salon d’Automne, fourteen years after the salon had first rejected his radical creations. In the course of those years, Braque had helped revolutionize not only the international art scene and much of modern culture but also the way in which people saw their world. His pictorial masterpieces captured the new dynamism and psychological complexity of a highly technological, multifaceted modern age and people. By the time Braque was asked to exhibit at the Salon d’Automne, the viewing audience and society were ready. Not only were all of the fourteen recent works he submitted sold, but he also became, finally, a huge success with the ordinary French public—as well as with the citizens of the world. Art movements;cubism Salon d’Automne[Salon dautomne] Painting;cubism Cubism

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Antliff, Mark, and Patricia Leighten. Cubism and Culture. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2001. Scholarly work discusses the innovations of cubism and their relation to cultural, political, philosophical, and scientific changes taking place in French society at the time. Includes many illustrations (more than fifty in color), bibliography, and index.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Danchev, Alex. Georges Braque: A Life. New York: Arcade, 2005. First full-length biography of Braque explores in detail his life and work, including his marriage, his military service, and his friendship with Picasso.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Flanner, Janet. “Master.” In Men and Monuments: Profiles of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and Malraux. 1957. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1990. Excellent chapter gives an in-depth look at Braque, including information about his artist friends, his major relationships, and his war service. Somewhat dated; leaves the last decade of Braque’s life uncovered. Includes black-and-white photographs.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Leymarie, Jean. Braque. Translated by James Emmons. Paris: Éditions d’Art Albert Skira, 1961. A thorough, precise commentary on the diverse styles of Braque. Very fine color plates of the major works of the artist’s major phases. Includes a useful chronological survey.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Georges Braque. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1988. Published in conjunction with the exhibition Georges Braque held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, June-September, 1988. Features three outstanding introductory essays and excellent color plates (with accompanying critical commentary) of eighty-five paintings, twenty-five drawings, and three works of sculpture.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Richardson, John. Georges Braque. Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1961. An inspiring introduction to Braque and his major pictorial phases. Great interjections of Braque’s own comments to the author during various interviews throughout the years. Fine color plates (thirty-four) and black-and-white plates (forty-three) along with pertinent critical commentaries. Includes a useful index of plates.

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