Julian Barnes on Georges Braque

From the London Review of Books:

_1258226_julianbarnes_150They were friends, companions, painters-in-arms committed to what was, at the start of the 20th century, the newest and most provoking form of art. Braque was just the younger, but there was little assumption of seniority by the other. They were co-adventurers, co-discoverers; they painted side by side, often the same subject, and their work was at times almost indistinguishable. The world was young, and their painting lives lay ahead of them.

You have to feel sorry for Othon Friesz, Braque’s fellow Le Havrean and loyal confederate in Fauvism, his proto-Picasso. While Braque moved on with his new Spanish friend to make the greatest breakthrough in Western art for several centuries, and Cubism relegated Fauvism to a jaunty memory, Friesz had to get on with the rest of his life and the rest of his career. Strangely, the two painters had their first joint show – a posthumous one – only last summer, at the Musée de Lodève. It proved a display of unintentional cruelty. The most compelling Fauve paintings were all by Braque; but while this was just a stage in his development (though a fondly remembered one – fifty years later he bought back his own The Little Bay at La Ciotat), it turned out to be what Friesz did best.

More here.