Georges Braque: His Graphic Work: His Graphic Work

Georges Braque: His Graphic Work: His Graphic Work

Georges Braque: His Graphic Work: His Graphic Work

Georges Braque: His Graphic Work: His Graphic Work

Excerpt

In September 1911 a young writer from Prague visited Paris. He wrote in his diary: "Over-all effect of flat planes: the shirtfronts, the wash hung out to dry, the napkins in the restaurants, the sugar, the great wheels of the two-wheeled carriages, the horses harnessed one behind the other, the flat boats on the Seine, the balconies that divide the houses, stressing the horizontals, the chimneys flush with the house walls, the folded newspapers."

The observation is very evocative, and yet the facts listed here seem incomplete; something is lacking. What is it that remains between the flat planes? This is dealt with in the next paragraph of the diary: "The crosshatchings of Paris: the tall thin chimneys that grow out of the flat chimneys, with many small ones like flowerpots -- the utterly silent old gas candelabra -- the horizontal lines of the shutters -- in the suburbs the crosshatched smudges on the walls next to the shutters -- the thin cornices on the roofs which we saw in the Rue de Rivoli -- the crosshatched glass roof of the Grand Palais des Arts -- the store windows divided by lines -- the railings of the balconies -- the grid of the Eiffel tower -- the greater linear effect of the lateral and central baths of the balcony doors in comparison with our windows -- the chairs out-of-doors and the little café tables with spidery legs -- the gilt-tipped fences enclosing the parks."

This is more than an inventory of lines: line becomes omnipresent, literally everything can be made of it; it can be made into a symbol that transforms the picture of this city into an epitome of refinement, delicacy, distinction, fragility. "The crosshatchings of Paris" -- this is a vivid image, invested with inexhaustible richness. At about the same time -- 1910 and 1911 -- a painter whose studio was on Montmartre executed an etching which he called Paris (plate 10), and another etching called Fox (plate 4), a title that refers to a bar near the Gare Saint-Lazare. The painter's name is Georges Braque; the writer's, Franz Kafka.

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