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André Derain (1880-1954)





André Derain


Birth name André Derain

Born 10 June 1880, Chatou, France

Died 8 September 1954, Garches, France

Nationality French

Movement Post-Impressionism, Fauvism



He received a sound education at the College Chaptal since his father was ambitious to make him an engineer. Drawn to painting, however, Derain became Carriere's pupil and a friend of Matisse. In 1889 he met Vlaminck and together they formed the Chatou school. Derain's debt to Vlaminck is undeniably one of subject (they both had the same passion for Van Gogh), notably landscapes and suburban scenes such as The Barges, Le Pont du Pecq and The Banks of the Seine, but also of brushwork, applied in squares, dots and short strokes, and of colouring, as bold and contrasted as Vlaminck's but less gay and dominated by tones of green and violet; also certain methods of composition (a predilection for curves). Yet it was Matisse who effected the crystallization of Derain's talent. On one occasion, when staying at Collioure with Matisse, Derain said: "I knew moments of great doubt and it was Matisse who reassured me." Contact with his companion's work gave his own painting a more relaxed, concise and delicate quality. His mastery fully showed itself in the series of pictures , his Fauvist masterpieces, he painted in London between 1906 and 1907; here the last traces of Impressionism and Divisionism vanish, and the colouring (pink, green, yellow, blue), although in a lower key than Vlaminck's, is more animated and autonomous, and applied in daubs in the body of his skilful composition following the shape of surrounding objects (i.e., the curve of Westminster Bridge) giving an appearance of solidity which, as in his robust London Bridge, is emphasised by the use of outline. Although lacking some of Matisse's conceptual freedom,Derain, his technique now thorough and at times splendidly lyrical (The Pool of London), put into practice the famous "condensation of sensations" a concept he had pondered as early as 1903 when he wrote: "Every painter has... been guilty of wanting to portray a moment in nature ... instead of realising that a simple luminous arrangement would put the mind into the same state as a landscape." In fact, until 1904, Derain's work is difficult to grasp, since it is marked by Gauguin and by Neo-Impressionism. In Matisse's company at Collioure in 1905 he painted canvases of an exacerbated Fauvist character. From 1908, influenced by Cezanne and negro sculpture, he showed a tendency towards austerity and became attracted to archaism and to Cubism (he had known Picasso since 1906). From 1912 to 1914 Sienese art imposed its influence; Derain's "Gothic" period ensued but terminated during the war. After 1920 the south of France and Italy inspired in him a Classical period. The Hunt earned him the 1928 Carnegie Prize. He was immensely active during 1930 and 1931: several exhibitions at Paul Guillaume, various decors for the theatre and for the Diaghilev Ballet (La Boutique
Fantasque), costume design, illustrations for Pantagruel and La Fontaine's Contes, sculpture and masks. In 1935 he left Paris and retired to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He died in a clinic at Garches after a road accident. In 1931, after ten years of grudging criticism, his qualities as a landscape painter began to be recognised. His wodes include Portrait of Vlaminck, Self-portrait (1904), Femme nue jusqu'aux Epaules, Effects of Sun on Water (1905), Collioure (1905), The Drinkers, Portrait of the Artist, Still-life, Interior, Portrait of Paul Guillaume, The Kitchen Table, Arlequin and Pierrot, The Big Tree and Provencal Landscape.

Post-Impressionism, Michel-Claude Jalard, Edito Service SA, Geneva


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