Georges Braque, L´Echo, ca. 1953-56,
Oil on canvas, 130,2 x 161,9 cm, © 2011 ProLitteris, Zurich
Georges Braque´s unusually large format still life entitled “The Echo” was produced between 1953 and 1956. It is one of the later works of the artist who died in 1963 – and in its complexity it can be regarded as a resumé of his entire body of artistic work. Together with Pablo Picasso at the beginning of the 20th century, Braque was one of the pioneers of Cubism. It was only after the First World War that he moved away from it and developed his own style. His preferred form was still life, one that he also chose for “The Echo”.
Whilst the vertical lines give the background a very structured and calm appearance, the centre and front of the picture are clogged up with various shapes and colours. The painting combines the visual language and technique of Cubism with metaphysical elements among others. Braque had already begun developing his own way of representing reality after the First World War. He believed in a painting´s inner truth, which no longer had anything to do with a reproduction of the everyday world. Perhaps the most important motif in “The Echo” is the bird. It is crashing down from somewhere above, as a messenger from the gods with its wings spread wide and a newspaper in its beak. Over the remainder of the front page we see the name of the newspaper – it has the same name as the picture: “L´Echo”. The echo of Braque´s artistic oeuvre perhaps – the interpretations are endless. After Georges Braque completed “The Echo” in 1956 he kept the work in his studio as a permanent source of inspiration.