On the occasion of the Georges Braque show that opened on the 18th of September at the Grand Palais, Artsper really wanted to meet Armand Israel, a unique Braques expert. He shared with us his feelings about the show, some anecdotes… and many other things one can’t find in a museum.
Artsper: Armand Israel, could you please tell us a few things about yourself?
I have studied science and I was a dentist surgeon, but I have always had a passion for art and for equitation. I have opened the Elysée Matignon gallery in 1993, and I was showing Cézanne, Brasilier, Oppenheim, Papart, Tobiasse… Then I created, with my brother, the publishing house Editions Georges et Armand Israël, specialized in art books. I am also the curator of the Georges Braques Museum, in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges.
A: As a Braques expert, I’m sure you were really interested in the exhibition at the Grand Palais… What do you think about it?
This is the most beautiful exhibition that has been done about Braques, but it is not complete. His fourth stage, the “metamorphoses”, is missing from the show: three dimensional gouache models that are informed by his major themes. It is a pity that his jewelry, his sculptures and his ceramics can’t be seen in the show.
A: G. Braque was the initiator of fauvism and cubism, but his metamorphoses receive little attention. Why is that?
People focus on his paintings, so they are shown what they like to see. But we can see a few of his sculptures from the time of the Second World War in the Grand Palais show. If you’re interested in the metamorphoses, you should know that they were shown in 1963 at the Louvre, and the state has bought some of his jewelry that is still shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
A: You’re saying you’d like to “eliminate many misconceptions”. What are these misconceptions?
Contrary to what people think, it is not Picasso who invented cubism, but Georges Braques. Also Les demoiselles d’Avignon is not a cubist piece; it belongs to his primitivist stage.
A: Do you know an anecdote about the artist, one that people might not know?
This is a nice one that André Breton was telling; Picasso said one day: “Braque is my wife”, and as he was a macho, we can understand by this that he meant “he obeys my orders”. Braque was upset and demanded him some explanations, and Picasso said: “it is you who created cubism, you are its mother… but who gave it strength? It’s me! So the two of us have a baby, and that’s cubism!”
A: What artists do you like, except from Braques?
Cézanne, without any doubt.
A: Have you already bought art online?
Very seldom, and when I had the opportunity to do so, it was just for exceptional art pieces, or particular ones.
A: What do you think about this practice, that is more and more popular?
It’s the future.
Discover Arman Israel wishlist on Artsper.