Fauvist Painters
French Expressionist Artists: "Les Fauves"

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Charing Cross Bridge (1906)
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
By Andre Derain, one of the great
exponents of colour in painting.


The Dance (1910) Hermitage,
St Petersburg. By Henri Matisse.

TWENTIETH CENTURY ARTISTS
For a quick reference guide,
see: 20th Century Painters.

Fauvist Painters (c.1905-7)

Contents

What is Fauvism?
The Greatest Fauvist Painters

What is Fauvism?

Fauvism was an early 20th-century style of French painting, noted for its bold use of luminous, pure colours. This intensity of colour was employed for emotional and decorative effect, but also to manage space and volume. As a movement, Fauvism appeared in 1905 when a group of colourist painters led by Matisse exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris. Dubbed "Fauves" (French for wild beasts) by the attending art critic Louis Vauxcelles, the group was supported by a handful of art dealers like Ambroise Vollard and Berthe Weill, but heavily criticised by critics and the public who were shocked by such aggressive use of colour, and found it difficult to treat these garish paintings seriously.

Despite this criticism, the Fauvists exerted a massive influence on modern art of the early 20th century. German Expressionism, for instance, was one of several modern art movements to be influenced by Fauvism's treatment of colour and tone, and many foreign artists travelled to Paris - then the world centre of art - to see the new French expressionist movement at first hand. Following its showing at the Salon d'Automne show (1905) and another at the Salon des Independants in 1906, the group drifted apart during 1907. Some members continued to produce highly coloured expressionist paintings, while others turned to new styles.


Vue de Capri (c.1908)
Private Collection.
By Charles Camoin, one of the
more restrained fauvist painters.

DEVELOPMENT OF VISUAL ART
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painting, see: History of Art.
For chronology and dates
see: History of Art Timeline.

WORLD'S BEST ARTISTS
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see: Famous Painters (1830-2010)

WORLD'S GREATEST ARTWORKS
For a list of the Top 10 painters/
sculptors: Best Artists of All Time.

GREATEST MODERN ART
For a list of masterpieces in
oils, watercolours, acrylics,
see: Greatest Modern Paintings.

Greatest Fauvist Artists

Important participants at the 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition were Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Rouault, Albert Marquet, Kees Van Dongen, and Othon Friesz. Later members included Raoul Dufy (1906) and Georges Braque (1907). All were influenced to varying degrees by Post-Impressionism - notably by Post-Impressionist painters like Van Gogh (1853-90), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) - as well as Neo-Impressionism. The most common genre among members of the group was landscape painting, although they also produced female nudes and portraits. Compositions typically paid little attention to 'depth' or volume, and were executed with vigorous brushwork. In mood, Fauvism was upbeat - unlike angst-ridden expressionism - but above all colourful! Matisse, the leader, had been exploring the use of colour since 1899, but only began to appreciate its true potential after working with the Neo-Impressionist Paul Signac (1863-1935) in the bright light of the south of France, in 1904, and with Andre Derain at Collioure in 1905. For a brief explanation of Fauvism's links with expressionism, see: History of Expressionist Painting (c.1880-1930).

 

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Founder of Fauvism and a pioneer colourist painter, noted for his juxtapositioning of pure tones to create contrasting planes. Passionate about colour all his life.
Andre Derain (1880-1954)
Member of Ecole de Paris, close friend of De Vlaminck. Noted for his wide square brushstrokes and an imaginative range of greens, blues and purple pigments.
Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Volatile, controversial artist, noted for his early landscapes which are freely painted, impastoed and full of colour.
Albert Marquet (1875-1947)
Trained with Matisse under Moreau; painted strong simple compositions (typically of Seine views, featuring docks, cranes, tugs) with clear harmonious colour.
Georges Rouault (1871-1958)
Also studied under Moreau with Matisse and Marquet. Unhappy, Christian artist, noted for black outlines, subdued colours. Works resemble icons or stained glass. Became one of the great expressionist painters.
Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)
Worked with Marquet on the Normandy coast. Combined clarity of line with vivid colours in highly decorative works on subjects like horse-racing, yachting. Prints, textile and tapestry designs.
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Dutch born French artist, best known for his highly original early canvases painted in saturated vibrant colours on a par with Matisse.
Georges Braque (1882-1963)
The last artist to join the Fauves group. His Fauvist pictures show great interest in the organization of forms, coupled with a passion for bold colour. Invented Cubism shortly after.
Othon Friesz (1879-1949)
Met Matisse at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Moved from Impressionism to Fauvism to Cezanne-style solidity, but best remembered for his Fauvist works.
Jean Puy (1876-1960)
Lyonnaise artist, met Matisse in Paris. A more moderate member of the group who painted landscapes, nudes, flowers and interiors in a bright spontaneous style.
Louis Valtat (1869-1952)
Started as a Neo-Impressionist. Then became an important precursor of Fauvism, but never a formal member of the Fauvist group. Continued to explore the use of colour pigments long after the group disbanded.
Charles Camoin (1879-1964)
A more moderate Fauvist despite enjoying the use of pure, bright colours. Later turned to Impressionism under the influence of Renoir.
Henri-Charles Manguin (1874-1949)
Friend of Matisse, Marquet and Camoin. Became hooked on the bright light of St Tropez where he settled. More restrained in his use of colour.

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