Georges Braque (French, 18821963)
Oil on canvas; 25 3/4 x 21 5/8 in. (65.4 x 54.9 cm)
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.11)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Braque joined Picasso in Céret, a small town in the French Pyrenees, sometime during the last two weeks in August and first week of September 1911. By that time, their works had become difficult to tell aparta phenomenon that the artists actually strove to achieve, by not signing their paintings. During the last phase of the style known as Analytic Cubismalso referred to as "high" or "hermetic"Picasso and Braque broke down their forms ever more. Thus their compositions consisted mainly of large, abstract planes and diagonal lines. The sober palette of grays, browns, and blackssome opaque, some notoften applied, as here, in short brushstrokes to create a dappled effect, enabled the planes to overlap and merge with one another in a shallow, relieflike space. Some tenuous links with reality survive where images of naturalistic objects, or parts of them, are incorporated in the composition.
The banderillas of the title, which cross each other diagonally and horizontally, are the most recognizable objects in the picture. During the bullfight, these dartlike, steel-barbed, wooden sticks decorated with paper are inserted into a specific muscle of the bull's neck by the matador's assistants, the banderilleros, to injure and weaken the animal. The letters ORERO stand for the bullfighting magazine Le Torero, references to which also appear in contemporary works by Picasso, as in Still Life with a Bottle of Rum, painted at the same time in Céret. Braque, unlike Picasso, was not a bullfight enthusiast, and he probably included these tauromachian allusionsthe only ones in his oeuvreas a tribute to his friend.