La Roche-Guyon

  • 1909
  • Georges Braque
  • oil on canvas
  • 116,2 × 96,3 × 4,2 cm (incl. lijst)
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1953
  • Inventory number 51

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The village of La Roche-Guyon is nestled in a bend on the River Seine about 45 miles northwest of Paris. Part of the castle is located in the lower part of the mountainside. Higher up on the rock, stands a ruin with a round tower. "When Braque saw the Guyon rock, he must have been struck by the facetted shapes of the village and the rock behind it. He must have visualized the landscape as one large crystal, because that is exactly how he painted the landscape; as a crystal with geometrically cut facets." Edy de Wilde wrote this in 1959 when he was Director of the Van Abbemuseum. He had bought the painting for the museum a few years previously.

The French artist Georges Braque got to know Pablo Picasso in 1907. They were both looking for a new spatial approach to painting. They started from a detail from reality, analysed its shapes and built a new, relief-like composition out of it. They would omit details and combine different views of their motif within a single painting. A central perspective no longer exists. The canvas is treated as a flat surface on which shapes and colours take their place as separate elements. As they mainly concentrated on shape, they limited their colour palette. This cubist vision is a first step in the development towards geometric abstract art.


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