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MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, 2009

Acrylic on Canvas

20" x 16"

This work is a re-imagining of "Houses at L'Estaque", an oil painting by Georges Braque (1908). L'Estaque is a fisherman’s village in the surroundings of Marseille and is well-known for its fabulous landscapes celebrated by the French painter Paul Cézanne. In my version summer heat of the original is transformed to a winter scene.

 

With further development of a stylised approach to landscape and another opportunity to play with perspective and repetition of geometric 3D shapes I was transported to an early art class with Philippe Nolle. Outlining makes the colours pop and helps the contrasts including hot and cold. It's certainly chillier at the top.

Houses at l'Estaque

by Georges Braque

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After a brief Fauvist period, at 25, Braque was looking to expand his artistic horizons. A visit to a retrospective on Cézanne’s work at the Grand Palais (Paris) in 1907 (where he struck up a working relationship with Picasso), marked a stylistic change toward muted colour palettes and simple geometric forms.

Houses at l'Estaque is an important work considered the first "Cubist landscape" (following derisory acclaim).  The artistic rendering and structure of composition is more important than realism. Braque simplified the houses and trees in the painting to their barest geometric forms using shading to create depth within these shapes. 

Traditions of perspective were broken with no central vanishing point and the foreground is impossible to distinguish from the background, although houses in the background do appear smaller. The blinding Mediterranean light is reduced to a range of ocher colors punctuated by the green and grey of the trees. It's a subtle transformation - there's definitely no snow!