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
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. "
Describes to V his first taste of the south as “the
blond, golden light that suppresses shadows.” Using nature as the s
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.