Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Georges Braque (1882-1963)

Vase, palette et tête

Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Vase, palette et tête
oil on canvas
25 3/4 x 19 1/8 in. (65.5 x 48.7 cm.)
Painted in 1948-1949
The artist's estate (no. P.H.R. 263).
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 015484/1611).
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Elkon Gallery, New York, in 1989.
Acquired from the above by the present owners.

Minneapolis, Institute of Arts, Picasso, Braque, Léger. Masterpieces from Swiss Collections, October 1975 - January 1976, no. 65; this exhibition later travelled to Houston, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, The silent dialogue: The still life in the 20th century, October 1978 - February 1979, no. 18.
Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Georges Braque en Europe, May - September 1982, no. 70, p. 212 (illustrated p. 32 & 213); this exhibition later travelled to Strasbourg, Musée d'Art Moderne.
Barcelona, Museo Picasso de Barcelona, Georges Braque 1882 - 1963, November 1986 - January 1987, no. 71, p. 219 (illustrated).
New York, The Elkon Gallery, Masters of the XXth Century, October - December 1987, no. 5 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

"No object can be tied down to any one sort of reality," the artist explained to Richardson. "Everything, I realized, is subject to metamorphosis; everything changes according to the circumstances. So when you ask me whether a particular form in one of my paintings depicts a woman's head, a fish, a vase, a bird, or all four at once, I can't give you a categorical answer, for this 'metamorphic' confusion is fundamental to what I am out to express" (quoted in Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters, New York, 2001, p. 26).

In Vase, palette et tête, the formal, rhythmic elegance of the verticals is softened by the sinuous curves of the eponymous objects – the vase, palette and profile. Unusually for Braque, rather than grouping the objects together on a table top, he has profiled their forms and isolated them from each other in an empty space. Only the echoes of their curves and their corresponding colours weave a connection between them. The profile, inspired by the reliefs of Braque’s 1939 Theogonie d’Hésiode, is far from a lifeless marble bust. The rounded eye, open mouth, jutting chin above an outstretched neck mark an interrogation, an astonishment perhaps, that it even appears in this composition in the same way as the other still life objects. The mythical stone bust has been transformed to plastic form under the hand of the painter; its sharp profile enclosed in a sine wave mirrored by the curves of the vase and those of the palette. The palette transforming the profile into the artist’s model.
Palette, vase et profile, marks the beginning of the artist’s retreat to the studio and the execution in 1949 of the first in the artist’s celebrated Atelier series, the profile here can be seen most clearly in nos. II and VI, while the half black, half white vase in the present work, is divided into its ying-yang object-forms in Atelier I.
Braque produced a lithograph after the present work for Une aventure méthodique (1950), a work by Pierre Reverdy (1950), which the writer dedicated to his friend Braque.

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