Georges Braque was a 20th century French painter who invented Cubism with Pablo Picasso. Along with Cubism, Braque used the styles of Impressionism, Fauvism and collage, and even staged designs for the Ballet Russes. Through his career, his style changed to portray somber subjects during wartime and lighter, freer themes in between. He never strayed far from Cubism, as there were always aspects of it in his works. Braque died on August 31, 1963, in Paris.
Published in 1962, just a year before Braque passed away, Si je mourais là-bas (‘If I die over there’) is a set of eighteen wood-engravings to accompany poems from Apollinaire’s Poèmes à Lou which Braque himself selected and edited accordingly, originally bound in a large volume or livre d’artiste.Braque had been a close friend of Apollinaire’s, who died forty years previous to the series: indeed he said of him that he was a great poet and a man to whom I was deeply attached, though he felt he understood nothing about painting despite the admiration he held for the publicity he and other poets had given him and his fellow cubist artists. Braque developed a special friendship with many of the major post-war French writers and had always loved Apollinaire’s work in particular, and would often refer to the mysterious ‘value’ or ‘life’ of all art as ‘poetry’ (though he refused to define this link in more explicit terms, claiming that the artist had to discover it and the ‘harmony’ it represented through his own effort and that it was essentially indescribable).