JED PERL on Georges Braque
The Relevance of Irrelevance
Braque and Picasso—who were like mountain climbers, so Braque later recalled, bound together in the development of Cubism—represent divergent attitudes toward modernity. Picasso is the athlete in the stadium. Braque is the poet in the tower. Although there are many painters in New York who care much more for Braque than Picasso, nobody can wonder why the city’s curators, critics, and collectors have more often than not embraced the mercurial Spaniard. But right now, at the Acquavella Galleries, Braque is having a moment. Perhaps there is a paradox here. Can an artist with a taste for the timeless ever strike us as timely? Braque, at least so I imagine, would find the question absurd. For him, the avant-gardist is not ahead of his time so much as he is outside of his time. With Studio IX, Braque invites us into the poet’s tower, where the gray light, penetrating without being especially strong, illuminates a palette, a jar, an easel, a bird’s wings. Studio IX is heraldic, emblematic, inscrutable. Braque’s great subject is the insatiable imagination. He invites us to feast with him.
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Image: Georges Braque, The Studio (IX), 1954, oil on canvas