Metamorphosis and Mystery

Georges Braque

Vase, Palette, and Mandolin, Georges Braque

[Based on John Richardson's conversations with Georges Braque]

What artists have particular significance for me? It's difficult to say. You see the whole Renaissance tradition is antipathetic to me. The hard and fast rules of perspective which it imposed on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four centuries to redress: Cézanne and, after him, Picasso and myself can take a lot of the credit for this. Scientific perspective is nothing but eye-fooling illusionism; it is simply a trick— a bad trick— which makes it impossible for an artist to convey a full experience of space, since it forces the objects in a picture to disappear away from the beholdeer instead of bringing them within his reach, as painting should. That's why I have such a liking for primitive art: for very early Greek art, Etruscan art, Negro art. None of this has been deformed by Renaissance science. Negro masks in particular opened up a new horizon to me.

You see, I have made a great discovery: I no longer believe in anything. Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them, and between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence— what I can only describe as a state of peace— which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation.

Georges Braque: An American Tribute, John Richardson, Public Education Association, NY, 1964

Art TheoryNihilism