Still Life With Fruits and Stringed Instrument by Georges Braque

In the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago hangs one of George Braque’s masterpieces the “Still Life with Fruits and Stringed Instrument”. This revolutionary Cubist piece explores new horizons for us to understand.

This work of art is teaming with activity and offers the viewer almost too much to grasp. In the center of the table you have a large fruit bowl on a stand holding an assortment of fruits. The grapes are clearly rendered in the middle while the pear is to the left edge of the fruit bowl. To the lower left of the fruit stand is the guitar or lute face up on the table. In front of the viewer on the table closest to the picture plane is a plate with a lemon and fruit. The plate is resting on a scroll of papers that looks like music. Looking to the right you see an uncut lemon resting on papers that have parallel lines inscribed on them representing a musical score. The same is the case with the decanter of wine just above the lemon and also with the orange and glass of wine to the far right.

On the back side of the table both the left and right sides are two images. The one on the left is a red figure with a kidney bean shape that I perceive to be the musician. Complimenting this figure on the right back side of the table is a triangular figure in yellow with zig-zags and dots on it. I perceive this to be a female companion enjoying the food and music of her friend.

The back wall of the scene is complex and busy, you can see the base-board of the wall and floor running along the bottom of the figure in red and then continue on from the other side of the table to the right of the triangular figure then off the canvas. There is no attention paid to keeping the horizon line of the floor in alignment with each side, the point is to secure the back plane for the table.

Throughout the painting you have zig-zag patterns that permeate the entire fabric of the work and give great visual stimulation to the piece. All of the zig-zag patterns are compartmentalized as you can see from the three panels on the back wall, the triangle figure to the right and the bowl of fruit impaled by dorsal fin like patterns. This is a wonderful stimulating work and is a landmark in bringing Cubist elements to the fore.

Stephen F. Condren – Artist

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