Georges Braque first began experimenting with birds as subjects for his art in 1949. The artist began pumping out works featuring birds in various forms, in flight, nesting, in flock, or solo. A few years later in 1955, Braque visited a bird sanctuary in Camargue, France, furthering his interest in the subject. The abstracted form of a bird in flight became something of a motif for the artist, appearing throughout the rest of his artistic career.
One beautiful example of Braque’s portrayal of birds is Oiseaux (Birds), 1962. The lithograph print shows a flock of birds flying through a pink sky. The contrast of the dark blue of the bird forms against the pale pink background is visually satisfying. Braque suggests the shapes of the birds with abstract forms, allowing the viewer to fill in the rest. The work mimics the feeling of looking up into the sky and following the flying silhouettes of birds overhead. The dreamy image offers a sense of balance and peace to any viewer.
Braque again revisits bird imagery in Astre et Oiseau (Star and Bird) I, 1958-59, another lithograph dedicated to the abstract form of a bird. Here Braque forms the bird’s shape in a very geometric and straightforward way, with a simple thin lined outline. The composition focuses on the bird with its wings spread wide across the sky, triggering notions of flight and freedom, against a dark night sky. The bird’s flattened form is reminiscent of Braque’s Cubist beginnings.
L’ordre des oiseaux (The Order of Birds), 1962 is an etching that focuses less on line and more on shape and color blocking. The forms of the birds are blocked out in blue against a beige sky and float above the suggestion of a horizon line at the bottom of the composition. This work suggests downward flight, possibly the birds diving towards the ground. Braque was a master at simplicity and vague suggestion, allowing his abstraction to guide viewers yet give them the freedom of finding their own interpretation.