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Georges Braque. Still Life with Tenora. (summer or fall 1913)

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Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963)

Still Life with Tenora

Date:
(summer or fall 1913)
Medium:
Cut-and-pasted printed and painted paper, charcoal, chalk, and pencil on gessoed canvas
Dimensions:
37 1/2 x 47 3/8" (95.2 x 120.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest
MoMA Number:
947.1979
Copyright:
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999

Still Life with Tenora is a consummate example of Braque's papier collé (literally, pasted paper) style. The bold geometric fragments of contrasting types of paper interlaced with the figurative motifs drawn in charcoal evoke the structure of a fugue, in which two distinct melodies intertwine in a rich, sonorous composition, each acting as a foil to the other's reality.

The invention of the papier collé in 1912 by Braque and Pablo Picasso introduced a revolution in Western painting, whose repercussions are still being felt today. By pasting fragments of paper (newspaper, wallpaper, and wood-grained paper) onto their still-life compositions, they introduced real materials and textures into an art hitherto based on illusionistic renderings.

The significance of this breakthrough cannot be overestimated because through this technique these artists declared the autonomy of the painted or drawn image, and radically severed it from any attempt at representation. The fragments attached to the picture's surface rarely followed the contours or silhouettes of the drawn motifs (glasses, bottles, or musical instruments), but, paradoxically, contradicted them. Thus, they countered the conventional devices of modeling and depth perspective, and drew attention to the absolute flatness of the two-dimensional plane.

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