Artist biographies

André Derain

André Derain (1880-1954) took classes at the Académie Carrière in Paris from 1898 to 1900, at the same time as Matisse. From 1900 he shared a studio with Vlaminck and painted his first landscapes. While many of his Fauve contemporaries experienced a preparatory Impressionist phase, Derain quickly developed his own individual style of broad brushstrokes and an adventurous use of colour inspired by Van Gogh and Cézanne. From 1901 to 1904 his training as a painter was interrupted by military service. He subsequently resumed his studies at the Académie Julian.

Derain spent the summer of 1905 with Matisse in Collioure in southern France, where they painted innovative landscapes in bright, unrealistic colours. These they exhibited at the Salon d’Automne later in the year. Their canvases prompted the critic Louis Vauxcelles to compare the painters to ‘Fauves’, or wild beasts, a derogatory term which the targets of his criticism subsequently adopted as their nickname. Thus Derain became one of the founders of Fauvism, along with Matisse and Vlaminck. In 1907 he moved to Montmartre where he came into regular contact with Picasso. Derain was influenced by Picasso and Braque to introduce Cubist elements into his work; he also replaced his vivid, Fauve palette with Cubism’s more restrained tones. However, Derain never became a Cubist ‘pur sang’. He soon took his work in another direction, studying the paintings of the Old Masters and seeking the ‘eternal’ in nature and a logical harmony in composition.

A well-known figure in the international art world, Derain displayed pictures at exhibitions organised by the Neue Künstlerverein and Der blaue Reiter in Munich, and at the Armory Show in New York. From about 1920 he spent much of his time in southern France where his style became ever less innovative. A visit to Germany during the Second World War gave him an undeserved reputation as a collaborator. In 1953 he suffered an eye infection which damaged his sight. He died a year later, after being hit by a car. Although Derain’s work subsequently fell into politically motivated obscurity, it currently enjoys renewed appreciation.

Andre Derain, 1928, foto Otto Umbehr, Réunion des Musées Nationaux

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