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"I no more decided to become a painter than I decided to breathe." - Georges Braque, 1954
Born in Argenteuil in 1882, Georges Braque grew up in Le Havre and began an apprenticeship as a housepainter/decorator in 1899, following the trade of both his father and grandfather. In 1900, he moved to Paris to continue his training. After completing his military service, Braque met Raoul Dufy in the summer of 1904 at Honfleur, returning to Paris in the fall to set up his own studio.
He became familiar with the work of Henri Matisse in 1905 through mutual friends, and along with Dufy and Friesz, Braque became the youngest of the Fauve artist, the first avant-garde movement of the 20th century known for its "wild" liberated colour palette and vehement brushwork. His Fauve period reached its apex in the radiant iridescence of his paintings from the summer of 1907 spent in the Midi of France at La Ciotat and L'Estaque.
That summer and fall, his style evolved into proto-cubism. Heavily influenced by the retrospective of Cézanne's work held at the Salon d'Automne in the fall of 1907, he systematically explored and developed grammar and syntax for Cubism independent of the movement's co-founder, Pablo Picasso. It was only late in 1907 that the two met for the first time when Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the art dealer, introduced them.
Approaching a common style from diametrically opposed positions and personalities, the mercurial, emotional Picasso and the restrained intellectual Braque influenced each other so greatly over several years that it's difficult to attribute unsigned works from their Analytical Cubist period to either one of them, if not impossible.
Braque was called up in 1914 at the outbreak of the Great War and, after being seriously wounded the following year, did not take up painting again until 1917.
Continuing to work in a Cubist manner, he established himself as France's leading painter between the Wars, dealing with a succession of new themes, expressing and exploring new relationships between line and volume. Throughout his career, his aesthetic aims centred on the perfect fusion of form and colour.
Although from 1947 his work was frequently interrupted by illness, he continued to produce major works until his death in Paris in 1963.