Braque was an artist who also tried new ideas, both stylistically and also technically. He was a fauvist in his early years and concentrated on landscape art for a number of years. He then helped create the cubist movement and slowly became busier in his work over a period of several years. L'Oiseau, to give it it's original French title, came towards the end of his career, when he had moved on again. The abstract elements of this lithograph will remind many of the work of Matisse and Picasso, who would create animals and birds with the most minimal of brush strokes. This was a symbol of their genius, where beauty looked so easy to produce. Braque would clearly follow a similar path during the 1940s and actually became bolder as he got older, seeking to try as many new things as possible before his old age would start to limit his own activities.
In truth, this piece actually will remind many of the expressionist work of Paul Klee, who regularly depicted animals and birds within his work and would do so in a flat, truly abstract form. The likes of The Goldfish, Fish Magic and Around the Fish will provide you with some good examples of his own personal interpretations. Following that, there is also Joan Miro who slowly became more and more abstract across his career and also featured various creatures within his consistent visual language which was repeated across a number of different decades and mediums. Carnival of Harlequin may be the finest version of this complex but exciting modern art language.
All-in-all, this lesser known lithograph displays the new approach that this artist took in his later years, which actually led to a high profile commission for the Louvre. Call ahead if you want to see this piece in person, as the Tate will not always have it on display, such is the extraordinary size of their collection and the limited display space that they have available at any one time.