A frenetic cluster of fragmented objects is at the center of this earth-toned oil painting. The simplified color palette and deconstructed, geometric shapes on overlapping planes, make it a quintessential work of Analytic Cubism. Bronze, brown, and tan angular shards are piled together with broken circles and odd shapes in the same colors. Within the pile, the distinctive curve of a violin’s body can be discerned near our bottom left, and an upright candlestick and circular flame can be inferred near the middle. Many of the broken-down forms appear flat, but others retain some depth with black outlines and silver shadows. However, the three-dimensionality is erratic and disorderly throughout the painting. The dozens of shapes grouped near the centre are surrounded by a rough, grid-like background, painted in the same palette with soft edges and discernible brush strokes.
Georges Braque
Nature Morte (Violon et Compotier), also titled Still Life (Violin and Candlestick), 1910

This work embodies the dynamic and energetic qualities of Analytic Cubism, a revolutionary artistic style pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso to depict three-dimensional objects on a flat canvas without the use of traditional Renaissance perspective. In this conceptual approach to painting, perceived forms are broken down, fractured, flattened, and then reconstructed in multiple-point perspective within a shallow space. Braque described this kind of fragmentation as “a technique for getting closer to the object.”

Here, still-life props (some recognizable and some impossible to identify) are clustered toward the center of a gridlike armature. Braque united the objects and the background by opening up and covering over the boundaries of the black-outlined objects, and by using the same earth-toned colors for the entire painting. He transformed volumes in the still life to accommodate their multiple surfaces on a flat plane, thereby allowing the viewer to see more of the form than would be possible from a single vantage point.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Nature Morte (Violon et Compotier), also titled Still Life (Violin and Candlestick)
Artist name
Georges Braque
Date created
1910
Classification
painting
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
24 in. x 19 3/4 in. (60.96 cm x 50.17 cm)
Date Acquired
1989
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Rita B. Schreiber in loving memory of her husband, Taft Schreiber
Copyright
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/89.78
Artwork Status
On view on floor 2 as part of Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture, 1900 to Now.

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