In the spring of 1907, Georges Braque visited the studio of Pablo Picasso for the first time. In the years that followed, the two artists, apparently so unlike in background, temperament, and possibly even in aesthetic, became essential to each other, forging a relationship that was part intimate friendship, part rivalry, part two-man expedition into the unknown. The young men were constantly in each other’s studio, scrutinizing each other’s work, challenging, stimulating, and encouraging each other. They went off to paint in different places and returned to compare results. They invented nicknames for each other, shared jokes and pranks, dressed up in each other’s clothes and took photographs. Along the way they invented a new language of painting that destroyed time-honored conventions of representation: they invented what came to be known as Cubism.

The remarkable symbiosis between the two artists is the...


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