French artist Georges Braque was influenced by the nonnaturalistic colors of the Fauves and the art of Paul Cézanne during his trips to L’Estaque. In 1908, Braque painted Viaduct at L’Estaque, which is widely considered to be the first Cubist landscape ever completed. The painting depicts an abstract landscape of a small village near Marseille and is housed at the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris.
The Viaduct at L’Estaque painting is an exemplary representation of Braque’s Cubist style. The traditional rules of perspective and depth have been thrown out as objects are broken down into geometric shapes and fragmented forms, giving them a more analytical appearance. Braque implemented several techniques in this masterpiece such as using contrasting colors to create depth perception while retaining a two-dimensional surface. Some critics have pointed out that some aspects in the painting resemble Guernica by Picasso; however, it is important to note that this piece originally inspired Picasso instead.
Braque extended synthetic cubism into an impressively decorative art form and expanded his repertoire later into etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, sculpture, and pottery. He died in Paris in 1963 at age eighty-one but left behind a significant legacy for aspiring artists today. Overall Viaduct At L’Estaque illustrates how Braque transformed traditional landscape painting into abstract art using unconventional techniques commonly attributed to Cubism movement pioneers such as himself or Pablo Picasso among others.