Meaning in Modern Art (1917)
In art, progress does not consist in extension, but in the knowledge of limits.
Limitation of means determines style, engenders new form, and gives impulse to creation.
Limited means often constitute the charm and force of primitive painting. Extension,
on the contray, leads the arts to decadence.
New means, new subjects.
The subject is not the object, it is a new unity, a lyricism which grows
completely from the means.
The painter thinks in terms of form and color.
The goal is not to be concerned with reconstituting an anecdotal fact,
but with constituting a pictorial fact.
Painting is a method of representation.
One must not imitate what one wants to create.
One does not imitate appearances; the appearance is the result.
To be pure imitation, painting must forget appearance.
To work from nature is to improvise.
One must beware of an all-purpose formula that will serve to interpret the other arts as well as
reality, and that instead of creating will only produce a style, or rather a stylization...
The senses deform, the mind forms. Work to perfect the mind.
There is no certitude but in what the mind conceives.
The painter who wished to make a circle would only draw a curve. Its appearance might
but he would doubt it. The compass would give him certitude. The pasted
[papiers collés] in my
drawings also gave me a certitude.
Trompe l'oeil, is due to an anecdotal chance which succeeds because
of the simplicity of the facts.
The pasted papers, the faux bois and other elements of a similar kind
which I used in some of
my drawings, also succeed through the simplicity of the facts;
this has caused them to be confused
with trompe l'oeil, of which they are the exact
opposite. They are also simple facts, but are
created by the mind, and are one of
the justifications for a new form in space.
Nobility grows out of contained emotion.
Emotion should not be rendered by an excited trembling;
it can neither be added on
nor be imitated.
It is the seed,
the work is the blossom.
I like the rule that corrects the emotion.
Georges Braque, Pensées et réflexions sur la peinture,
Nord-Sud 10 (December 1917).
Reprinted in Artists on Art,
Edited by Robert Goldwater & Marco Treves, Pantheon, NY, 1958, pp. 422-423
Metamorphosis and Mystery (1964)
What artists have particular significance for me? It's difficult to say. You see
the whole Renaissance tradition is antipathetic to me. The hard and fast rules of
perspective which it imposed on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four
centuries to redress: Cézanne and, after him, Picasso and myself can take
a lot of the credit for this. Scientific perspective is nothing but eye-fooling
illusionism; it is simply a trick a bad trick which makes it impossible
for an artist to convey a full experience of space, since it forces the objects
in a picture to disappear away from the beholdeer instead of bringing them within
his reach, as painting should. That's why I have such a liking for primitive art:
for very early Greek art, Etruscan art, Negro art. None of this has been deformed by
Renaissance science. Negro masks in particular opened up a new horizon to me.
You see, I have made a great discovery: I no longer believe in anything.
Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them,
and between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort
of intellectual non-existence what I can only describe as a state of peace
which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation.
Metamorphosis and Mystery, based on John Richardson's conversations
with Georges Braque,
in Georges Braque: An American Tribute, Edited by
John Richardson, Public Education Association, NY, 1964.
Originally The Power and Mystery of Georges Braque, Observer
(London), December 1, 1957