Georges Braque, the boss

The Bird in the Foliage, 1962, original lithograph, 80x105 cm, Maeght Éditeur, Paris.

In 1944, Pierre Bonnard and Aimé Maeght took Marguerite Matisse, the painter's daughter, back to Paris from the camps. It was she who introduced Aimé to Albert Marquet, Henri Laurens and, in 1945, Georges Braque. The latter already enjoyed international fame. The cubist painter became the best friend of the Maeght family. Of all the artists I have known, including Bonnard," Aimé admits, "he is the one I have been with the most for almost twenty years. A continuous dialogue was established between the two men.

Aimé Maeght and Georges Braque, 1954

It was Braque who advised the Maeghts to show Derain's works. Aimé admired not only the man, his spirit and his rigor, but also his work and his sense of craft. Not a shadow will tarnish their deep friendship. Aimé bought all the artist's production and encouraged him to return to the lithography workshops.

Aimé took over the edition of the plates engraved by Braque for Ambroise Vollard illustrating the Theogony of Hesiod as well as the prints of the cubist engravings of the 1900s.

In the 1950s, Braque painted his famous Ateliers series, but also large rural landscapes in panoramic sizes: abandoned ploughs in a wheat field, birds flying over the plain... He also returned to seascapes, seashores, boats on the shore whose impasto can seem heavy; the paint overflows and even invades the frame... The gaze narrows on the painting. His last paintings give a feeling of vertigo. "I have the concern to put myself in unison with nature, much more than to copy it," he notes in his Notebook that Maeght published in 1947.

Page from the Notebook of Georges Braque, 1917-1947, Maeght Éditeur, Paris

The rigor is combined with an invention dominated by reflection. All his painting is contained in this sentence that he hammered out: "One must be content to discover, but beware of explaining." In Varengeville, where he lived and worked, and where during the "phony war" he was joined by Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and his family, Braque was able to capture the hard and changing light.
Georges Braque creating, in the reserves of the Louvre, the ceiling of the Etruscan room, 1952. 
As a family, the Maeghts regularly met the painter and his wife Marcelle in this village on the Normandy coast. Then Georges Braque returned to Paris, where Adrien's wife Paule visited him daily.

Marguerite Maeght, Georges and Marcelle Braque in Venice in 1948.

At his death in 1963, a national funeral was held for him. His friend André Malraux, who had commissioned him to decorate a ceiling in the Louvre Museum, delivered the eulogy in front of the museum. The painter is buried in the small cemetery of Varengeville, whose chapel is decorated with his stained glass. A great friendship united the one that Jean Paulhan nicknamed "the boss" to Jacques Prévert, who dedicated these few verses to him:

what did he think about
when was he thinking
in front of the sea this naked model.
Georges Braque, The Black Birds, 1956 - 1957, oil on canvas, 181 x 229 cm.

"Children and geniuses know that there is no bridge, only water that can be crossed. Also with Braque the source is inseparable from the rock, the fruit from the ground, the cloud from its destiny, invisibly and sovereignly. The incessant coming and going from solitude to being and from being to solitude creates before our eyes the greatest heart there is. Braque thinks that we need too many things to be satisfied with one thing, therefore we must ensure, at all costs, the continuity of creation, even if we must never benefit from it. In our concrete world of resurrection and the anguish of non-resurrection, Braque assumes the perpetual. He does not have the apprehension of future quests although having the concern of the forms to be born. He will always place a man in them! - René Char, Derrière Le Miroir, 1957
Georges Braque in the reserves of the Louvre

"Braque was a craftsman who always kept this character with this restraint and this nobility of the love of the trade. - Aimé Maeght