While browsing through the art books in Lilly Library, colorful paintings full of energy caught my eye. The use of bold and bright colors caught my attention because they were reminiscent of Impressionist paintings (my favorite), but still had a unique style.
The artist whose works piqued my interest is Andre Derain, a French fauvist painter, sculptor, illustrator, stage designer, and collector. He is often compared to Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gaugiun, Paul Signac, Georges Braque, and Claude Monet.
Andre Derain was born and raised in the small town of Chatou which was a location frequented by many Impressionist painters. Derain originally went to Paris to study engineering, but was captivated by art. He ultimately rejected engineering and attended Academie Carriere to launch his art career. Derain served in the military for three years and only painted during his periods of leave. After leaving the army, Derain grew closer to artist Henri Matisse, a fellow pupil of Gustave Moreau.
In 1905, Drain and his peers created a “success de scandale” through their radical use of colors, but they still accepted the Impressionist idea that the painting should follow nature and capture the passing moment of contemporary life. By applying bright, pure colors straight from the tube to the canvas, a new style was developed which is referred to as “Fauvism” or “wild beasts”. In 1907, Derain moved from Chatou to the Rue Tourlaque where he became close friends of Picasso. They shared an interest in Cezanne, a passion for exotic arts. Derain then began to shift from the Fauvist style to more muted tones that resemble the “Old Masters.” This style of art was a radical shift in his traditional style because the color was reduced and the forms became more austere. Derain continued in this style until his death in 1954.
Examples of works by Andre Derain:
The first piece that caught my eye was “Bridge over the Riou,” a painting from 1906. This painting is oil on canvas and is featured in the MoMA. Though the title describes a place in France, the image itself represents how Derain perceived it. In this painting, one is able to see the bank in the foreground, a riverbed, a bridge, a cabin, and a covered well. Even though the space is compressed and flattened, the structures are still portrayed.
Looking at the painting entitled “London Bridge” from 1906, one is able to see his use of bright and bold colors. The water is green, the sky is a deep orange, two boats emerge from the densely blue shadowed arches of the bridge. The landscape seems to be more energetic due to this use of color.
Looking at the “Port of Collioure” from 1905, one is able to see a small but busy fishing port in the south of France. The viewpoint of the painting is much higher than ground level which allows for more boats to be portrayed along the quayside. The fishermen are in the foreground tending to their boats. He used brushstrokes of unmixed color to capture the energy of the scene. The colors red and yellow further contribute to the bright light and heat of the Mediterranean setting. Also worthy of mentioning is the color contrast between the red-roofed houses on the far side of the bay and the green hill in the distance.
In the painting “Mountains at Collioure”, Derain depicts his view of Collioure from the summer of 1905. The trees and grass are painted using long strokes of pure color.
The "Charing Cross Bridge" from 1906 is recognized as one of the finest Fauvist paintings. The street and surrounding buildings are painting in flat colors while the changing sky and water are treated with smaller brushstrokes which are similar to Impressionism. I particularly like how the boats and buildings on the shore are somewhat distorted.
"Les Sechage des Voiles" or The Drying Sails. I like this painting because it portrays a lot of movement. Every fisherman in the foreground is doing something different and the large sails of the boats appear as if they are flowing in the wind. Using the short brush strokes for the water implies waves that are formed from the boats.
"Trees in Colliure" 1905
"The Red Sails" 1906
Bee, Harriet Schoenholz., and Cassandra Heliczer. MOMA Highlights: 350 Works from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2004. 51-52. Print.
Turner, Jane. The Dictionary of Art. Vol. 34. New York: Grove, 1996. 773-74. Print.
Vaughan, William. Encyclopedia of Artists. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. 40-41. Print.