FAUVES 1905 – 1908

Henri Matisse;  Andre Derain;  Maurice De Vlaminck

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The Music – Matisse

While there was the liberation of colour by the Post-Impressionists – Formally by Cezanne and Seurat, Expressively and with symbolic meaning by Van Gogh and GauguinMatisse, Derain and De Vlaminck exhibited works wild with colour.  As a result of an intended insult, a new movement was created called ‘Les Fauves’.  These artists were bound by no rules, discarding all academic rules, both French and British.  They painted how they wanted, using colour emotively, expressively – this was derided at their exhibition.

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Collioure Le Port de Peche – Derain;        Chatou Bridge – De Vlaminck

The whole purpose of painting was light, colour and patternmaking – using brilliant colour, simplified design, correct use line in pattern-making.  Matisse was their undisputed leader.  He believed ‘today’s beauty is today’s beauty – not past or future’, following readings of Beaudelaire.  Colour used, free of traditional purpose, for the sole purpose of painting.


  1.  Use of colour for its own sake, as a viable end in art.
  2.  Rich surface texture, with awareness of the paint.
  3. Spontaneity – lines drawn on canvas, and suggested by texture of paint.
  4. Use of clashing (primary) colours, playing with values and intensities.
  5. Varied subject matter – picking out elements of genre scenes, landscapes, inside studios, etc.
  6. The colour and the object painted was the real subject, whether still life, landscape, etc.

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l’Estaque – Derain;                            Tugboat – De Vlaminck

Both Derain and De Vlaminck painted reactions to their subjects in pure colour, using powerful brushstrokes, and high keys.  Derain used short brushstrokes, while De Vlaminck used longer swirling strokes.

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The Dance – Matisse

Henri Matisse worked in many media – oils, stained glass, sculpture, collages.  His tended to be very happy works, based on his feelings, with no narrative or message.  He distorted perspective and ignored conventions to create a total design.  In THE DANCE, he moved away from the fact that there were figures, and rather tried to convey the joy, music and movement of the four dancers, placed on an arbitrary picture plane.  “The whole arrangement of my painting is expressive.”

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Egyptian Curtain – Matisse

He was influenced by African, Polynesian, Central and Southern American, and primitive art, and the designs that came from their textiles, their masks, and their interest in texture.  He felt that the artistic treatment was more important than the representation of nature.  His preference was for thickly applied primary colours, and the use of colour to convey emotion.

The Fauves were involved with getting in touch with an emotional reality in their art, seeing themselves as humans, as emotional beings, and expressing that through their art.  By 1908 the Fauves disbanded as a group, due to their individual development.

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London Bridge 1906 – Derain

Derain returned to a more traditional style of painting, taming his Fauvism, with his colours more subdued, with less obvious brushwork. Matisse continued along Fauves ideas of freedom of expression and colour, retaining his unique style.  He was criticized that he distorted too much in his figure-work – he replied “This is not a woman, this is a painting.”

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Purple Robe and Anemones 1937 – Matisse

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(C) Jud House  14/09/2016

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