Braque-Notebooks Georges Braque's Illustrated Notebooks (1917-1955)
translated by Stanley Appelbaum
Dover Publications, NY, 1971
(originally published by Maeght, Paris, 1948)

Click title or book cover to buy this beautiful book
with Braque's drawings & calligraphy at

Notebooks 1917-1947

2. Nature doesn't give you a taste for perfection. You can't conceive of it as being better or worse than it is.
3. We will never have repose. The present is perpetual. Thinking and reasoning are two different things.
4. Reality. It isn't enough to make people see the object you paint. You must also make them touch it.
5. Art is a mode of representation.
6. Emotion is not something added on; it can't be imitated. It is the bud.
The work of art is the opening of the bud.
7. In art no effect can be achieved without straining the truth... I don't do what I wish. I do what I can.
8. The artist's personality does not consist of the sum of his mannerisms.
9. You should not ask the artist for more than he can give, or the critic for more than he can see.
Let's be satisfied to make people reflect, let's not try to convince them.
10. Art is meant to upset people, science reassures them.
11. The painter thinks in forms and colors. The object is his poetics.
12. You should not imitate what you want to create.
13. In art there is only one thing that counts: the thing you can't explain.
16. Those who lead the way turn their back on their followers. That is just what the followers deserve.
18. I like the rule which corrects the emotion.
19. Science does not proceed without fraud: to solve a problem, it is sufficient to state it correctly.
Art soars above things, science gives you crutches.
20. It is the precariousness of the work of art that places the artist in a heroic position.
When someone appeals to talent, it is because his zeal is wanting.
22. What the painter attempts is not to reconstitute an anecdote, but to constitute a pictorial event.
23. There is an art of the people and an art for the people; the latter was invented by the intellectuals.
I don't believe that Beethoven or Bach, when drawing inspiration from folk melodies, thought of
establishing a hierarchy.
25. I am more interested in achieving unison with nature than in copying it.
26. To discover a thing is to lay it bare.
27. Climate— You must arrive at a certain temperature which will make things malleable.
31. Writing is not describing, painting is not depicting. Verisimilitude is merely an illusion.
32. For every acquisition there is an equivalent loss. That is the law of compensation.
33. Limited means produce new forms, inspire creativity, make a style. Progress in art
does not consist in reducing limitations, but in knowing them better.
34. I am not a revolutionary painter. I do not seek exaltation. I am satisfied with fervor.
35. To define a thing is to replace it with its definition.
36. To construct is to assemble homogeneous elements. To build is to connect heterogeneous elements.
38. When all is said and done, I prefer those who exploit me to those who follow me.
The former have something to teach me.
39. Every condition is always complementary to the condition which preceded it.
40. Survival does not do away with memory.
41. A stream can be diverted from its course; it cannot be turned back toward its source.
42. Ideas, like clothes, get worn out and lose their shape as they become worn.
43. Action is a series of desperate acts which allows you to retain hope.
45. Conformity begins with definition.
46. You can't always have your hat in your hand. That's why hat racks were invented.
For my part, I discovered painting as a nail on which to hang my ideas.
That allows me to change them and avoid fixed ideas.
47. Keep your head clear. Concepts cloud it. It was not as a result of profound meditation that man first
drank from the hollow of his hand. (From hand to drinking glass via the seashell.)
What is involved is not so much a metaphor as a metamorphosis.
48. The vase gives a form to the void, and music gives a form to silence.
49. It is a mistake to enclose the subconscious in an outline and to situate it at the border of rationality.
51. Keep your head clear, be present. Some people would die of thirst between
a pitcher of water and a coffee cup.
52. “My thesis holds up.” “That's because you're upholding it.” Truth exists; only lies are invented.
53. You must choose: a thing cannot be true and likely at the same time.
54. With the Renaissance, ideality replaced spirituality.
55. The future is the projection of the past, conditioned by the present.
56. I have never been able to tell a beginning from an ending.
57. It is the chance event that reveals existence to us. From day to day.
58. Mystery breaks out in full daylight. The mysterious is confused with darkness and obscurity.
59. You must always have two ideas: one to destroy the other. To defend an idea is to adopt an attitude.
61. Those who rely on the past for their prophecies pretend to be unaware that this past
is only a hypothesis. The painter knows things by sight; the writer who knows them
by name has the benefit of prejudice in his favor. That's why criticism is easy.
62. Science is power acquired from repetition. One man looks for things that can support his ideas,
another man looks for things that can destroy them.
63. Truth protects itself. Antagonisms grow up around it symmetrically but do not reach it.
64. Let's not arrive at conclusions! The present, a chance event, will free us.
Vocabulary is a trustworthy witness to an era.
65. It is not the goal that is of interest, it is the means of reaching it.
Erudition, knowledge without exactness.
67. Hope versus the ideal. Persistence versus habit. Faith versus convictions.
69. Idealism is a conventional form of hope.
70. Look for points in common which are not points of similarity. It is thus that the poet can say,
“A swallow stabs the sky,” and turns the swallow into a dagger.
71. When someone imagines things, he is moving away from the truth.
If he has only a single idea— he is put away.
72. Magic is not less dangerous for the one who practices it than for the one it is practiced on.
74. The true materialist is the believer. Spirituality versus ideality.
75. The Perpetual versus the Eternal.
Some people, like the naturalist, stuff nature, thinking they are making it immortal.
76. Magic is the totality of means for arousing credulity.
77. A still life is no longer a still life when it is no longer within arm's reach.
78. Visual space, tactile space. Visual space separates objects from one another.
Tactile space separates us from the objects. V.S.: the tourist looks at the site.
T.S.: the artilleryman hits the target. (The trajectory is the extension of the arm.)
Units of tactile measurement: the foot, the cubit, the thumb-width [inch].
79. Form and color do not merge, they are simultaneous.
80. The painting is finished when it has effaced the idea. The idea is the launching cradle of the painting.
81. The subject. A lemon beside an orange is no longer a lemon, the orange no longer an orange;
they have become fruit. Mathematicians follow this law. So do we.
82. Few people can say, “I am here.” They seek themselves in the past and see themselves in the future.
84. Whatever is not taken from us remains with us. It is the best part of ourselves.
85. Frontiers are the limits of resistance. The lake asks its shores to contain it.
86. Reasoning is a path for the mind and a tumult for the soul.
87. Freedom. Freedom is taken but not given. Freedom for most people means the free exercise
of their habits. For us, it means going beyond what is permitted. Freedom is not accessible to everyone;
for many, it is situated between prohibtion and permission.
88. Never join an organization.
89. For those who worship themselves, convictions take the place of faith.
90. Of two things thought to be alike, one is always a duplicate. Reason is reasonable.
91. Echo answers echo; everything reverberates.
92. The Perpetual and its spring-like murmur.
93. As you grow older, art and life become one and the same.

Notebooks 1947-1955

97. All sleep around us. Reality is only revealed in the illumination of a ray of poetry.
The march to the star. Those in the lead carry a shepherd's crook;
those who march in the rear have a whip; on the flank, the horrible file closers.
98. Formerly the tool was the extension of the hand; now in the machine age the hand has become
the extension of the tool. You must be satisfied with making discoveries, but you must
take care never to offer explanations. It is the unforeseeable that creates the event.
99. The intellectuals badly in need of intelligence. The profile versus the silhouette.
Start out from the lowest point in order to have a chance to rise.
For me, it is no longer a question of metaphor, but of metamorphosis.
100. Love is liking something without a good reason.
103. Some works of art make you think about the artist, others make you think about the man.
I have often heard people speak about Manet's talent, never about Cézanne's.
Let's be cautious; talent is spellbinding.
104. Force and resistance are one and the same thing.
In the present, there is no opposition between things; all things form pairs.
105. The Renaissance (in painting) confused stage setting with composition. The truth has no opposite.
106. We must destroy every idea in order to reach the inevitable.
It is the detail that distracts and that gives life.
The "ian" is influenced by the spirit. The "ist" practices a system.
There used to be Cartesians, now there are Marxists.
107. Unceasingly we run after our destiny. Sensation. Revelation.
108. The discovery by painters of mechanized perspective influences thought. Relationships are a function
of viewpoint. Logic is an effect of perspective. Force suppresses justice and injustice.
110. I do not protect my ideas. I expose them. I am subject to feelings which go beyond predilection.
Utopia is a myth whose consequences are though to be foreseeable.
111. I yearn for love in the way that people yearn for sleep.
Units of tactile measurement: the foot, the cubit, the thumb-width [inch].
Cézanne built, he did not construct. Construction implies filling-in.
112. Night, dust, sleep. Poetry endows things with a circumstantial life. Prayer begins with
“I hope that...” I shun what is similar to me; in every case of similarity there is duplicate.
113. Knowledge of the past; the revelation of the present. Culture produces monsters.
Conscience is the mother of vice. The prong of a rake.
114. A thing cannot be in two places at once. You can't have it in your head and before your eyes.
Let's forget the things and consider only relationships. The present; circumstance.
115. The cowman drives his herd, but he would not be able to drive one bull alone.
The drum, instrument of meditation. Whoever listens to the drum hears silence.
116. For me, application to my work always takes precedence over anticipated results.
In seeking the inevitable, you discover yourself.
117. I have no need to deform. I start out from the formless and I form.
I do not seek definition. I tend toward infinition.

| Top of Page | Braque Quotes | Braque's Patience | Braque & Dürer |
| Braque Symbolism | Bird in Foliage | Paper Collages | August 31 | Home |

© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (9-12-2000)