MoMA
Georges Braque. Homage to J. S. Bach. winter 1911-12
Georges Braque

Homage to J. S. Bach

winter 1911-12
Not on view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
21 1/4 x 28 3/4" (54 x 73 cm)
Credit
The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, acquired through the Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest Fund and the Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (both by exchange) and gift of Leon D. and Debra Black
Object number
544.2008
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Braque made Homage to J. S. Bach toward the end of a period of several months in which he and Pablo Picasso worked very closely together, producing paintings in a style that has become known as Analytic Cubism. In Analytic Cubism space is very compressed and shallow, colors are reduced to a palette of tans and grays, and identifiable subject matter—here, the parts of a violin—appears only in flickering moments. With this painting Braque introduced imitation wood grain to Cubism. He had learned this technique while working as a housepainter, and the Cubist practice of stenciling letters—here, BACH, J, and S—was also inspired by Braque's commercial training. Picasso and Braque employed multiple modes of representation simultaneously: in this work, Braque combined virtuoso illusionistic wood grain with linguistic references and near abstraction.

Braque was trained as a classical musician, and he thought musical instruments added a tactile dimension to the visual image: "The distinctive feature of the musical instrument as an object," he said, "is that it comes alive to the touch." Johann Sebastian Bach, whose polyphonic compositions may be seen as musical analogues to the shifting planes and multiple perspectives of Analytic Cubism, was one of Braque's favorite composers. Rare for his work of this period, Braque signed his name prominently on the paintings face, perhaps to invite the slippage of sound between the composers name and his own. This is the second Analytic Cubist work by Braque to have recently entered the Museum's collection.

Gallery label from 2007
Additional text

In the lower-left corner of this painting, Braque introduced imitation wood grain to Cubism. He had learned this technique while working as a housepainter; the Cubist practice of stenciling letters—here, BACH, J, and S—was also inspired by Braque’s commercial background. Braque was a trained classical musician, and Johann Sebastian Bach, whose polyphonic compositions are musical analogues to the shifting planes and multiple perspectives of Analytic Cubism, was one of his favorite composers. Rare for his work of this period, Braque signed his name prominently on the painting’s face, perhaps to invite a slippage of sound between the composer’s name and his own.

Gallery label from 2011
Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource