Andre Derain

1880 - 1954



Le Phare de Collioure, 1905, Modern Art, Paris

La Riviere, 1905, Modern Art, Paris

Tree Landscape on the River Bank, 1905

London Bridge, 1905-6

Trois personnages assis dans l'herbe, 1906, Modern Art, Paris

The Turning Road, L'Estaque, 1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Blackfriars Bridge, London, 1906, Kelvingrove, Glasgow

Nature morte a la table, 1910, Modern Art, Paris

Portrait de Lucie Kahnweiler, 1913, National D'Art Moderne, Paris


From Chatou. He often scraped the paint off canvases when he was finished, maybe to save money. Also known to have been done this to destroy the past. He wrote volumes of autobiography to settle old scores. Derain called the fauvist period, “youthful brashness.” Later in life he bought back canvases and changed the date.



D lived with his parents who ran a prosperous confectioner’s shop in Chatou. Disappointed by him giving up engineering studies, they only paid him a small allowance as part time errand boy.

Met Matisse (M) and Puy while painting in Carriere’s studio. M and D were eager to impose their imagination on what they saw, very articulate with each other. One of the first works of D that M saw was a copy of Ghirlandaio’s Christ Carrying the Cross which is in the Louvre. M said, “(D) not only put back the color but reinforced the expression.” D was nearly thrown out of the Louve for ‘assassinating beauty’. They probably saw very little of each other outside the classroom as M had small children.


By the end of 1900  M, D, Vlaminck (V), Puy and Marquet are all working together in Carriere’s studio. Winter 00-1 V and D shared a studio in a disused restaurant on the Ile de Chatou opposite the small town of Bougival for ten years.

D met Vlaminck: from nearby Vesinet, intelligent, tough, rambunctious, politically active. V was the great companion and gave Derain a sense of direction. They met during V’s fortnight’s leave from the army, nearing the end of his 3 year service on a train from St Germain-en-Laye (suburb of Paris) to the Gare St Lazare, and then again that night on the return which halted due to a derailment up ahead. They walked home. Painted together the next day, maybe the first day V shared his work. V said, “D was the first not to laugh at my artistic efforts, to take some interest in them.”

His friendship with V got him through three hard, often joyless years of military service was served after V had finished his obligation. The two of  them did not have the academic promise or a respected profession which kept most of the other fauvists out of their service. The correspondence from D to V still remains. D read a lot as V did during his service, and did some writing. There is evidence of attempts at novels and stories and plays which express an ambivalence between being an artist of his time and one who can transcend. Aspirations towards Zola’s realism but with a greater emphasis on dramatic expressionism. D said to V, "The good thing about the theatre is that it allows a much greater logic in building up a person psychologically and physically." This is shown in The Ball at Suresnes (1903) copied from a photo taken at an army dance.

D and V possessed by a vivid romantic ideal of the artist as hero. They shared anarchist sentiments with Neo-Impressionists Luce and Signac. Note Luce’s Une Rue de Paris en mai 1871 ou La Commune.

Derain wrote in a letter to V during his service, "Those telegraph lines, they should be made to look enormous, so much is going on inside." He was held in by “the powerful antidote of realism."


Derain’s The Bridge at Le Pecq (04-5), exhibited at the 05 Salon des Independants “is the most aggressively disruptive of contemporary pictorial convention… it was D not V who commanded the visual means with which to express their common urge to ‘disobey’”1 Contrast between deep shadow in the foreground to brilliant light, suppression of I, NI and Nabis charm. V and D condemning a whole epoch.


Summer: D joined Matisse in Collioure six weeks after M had arrived at a cheap boarding house there which Signac had recommended to M. Signac had painted there. They were on the quayside with M’s family. D was now financed by his family thanks to a visit by M and his wife Amelie. Vollard bought up D’s entire studio collection in 05 on M’s reccomendation. Letters to V imply that D did not feel he knew M very well. Said about M, "He’s a much more extraordinary fellow than I would have thought, from the standpoint of logic and psychological speculations."

Describes to V his first taste of the south as “the blond, golden light that suppresses shadows.” D uses a cooler ground color than M. M and D achieve flatness of surface but also a 3D effect with the blocks and wedges of color. The unpainted canvas is like “untouched areas of a woodblock.” D, V and M did turn to woodcuts and carving. Using nature as the subject, smaller elements receive equal (unnatural) weight, sand in a D is painted on by a heavy stroke – inspired by Van Gogh?.


Vlaminck procured an African mask which he sold to D who in turn showed it to Picasso and Matisse. See influence of this mask source 3 p. 32.


At this time D began to move away from "Fauvism" and concentrated on the work of Gauguin who had a large retrospective at the Salon d'Automne in 1906. We can see the influence of Gauguin's primitivist mock-Tahitian cylindrical carvings and Derain's own collection of African art on his work. He began spending a lot of time with Braque and Picasso working towards cubism. Also Cezanne's influence (retrospective this year) on his Bathers, where he abandons the Fauve palette for earthly tones.



1)    Fauvism, Sarah Whitfield, Thames and Hudson pub, 1991.
2)    Cubism and Culture, Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten. Thames & Hudson world of art, 2001.
3)    Pompadeau National Modern Art Museum, Paris, 2003.