Art: Objects as Poetics

The man was in the signature: seven rounded, erect characters, modestly impressed on the canvas, lettered rather than scrawled—nothing like Picasso's graphic flourish—and then underlined with two neat strokes: G. Braque. All his working life, from the early months of mottling, marbling and staining as a house decorator's apprentice in 1899 to the last grand studio in Varengeville with its sifting light and immense, airy still lifes, Braque liked to call himself an artiste-peintre; a phrase redolent of craft and self-effacement. For as an artist, he represented everything that his rival Picasso did...

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