Maurice Vlaminck




Flemish origins, from Vesinet. Lived and worked in France. Intelligent, tough, rambunctious, politically active.



Serious biker until an attack of typhoid fever kept him out of the Prix de Paris, and put an end to his career.


Began his 3 year military service. Adapted well to military life. The army library exposed him to novelists Zola and the Goncourt brothers, and political writers Marx and Kropotkin. Hung out with an anarchist corporal Fernand Sernada who wrote.

Military at that time had to deal with the strikes which were growing in length up to a year and the activities of anarchists. Upon release he worked as a contributor and fund raiser for La Libertaire, an anarchist newspaper. V said:

What I could have done in real life only by throwing a bomb – which would have led to the scaffold – I tried to achieve in painting by using color of maximum purity. In this way I satisfied my urge to destroy old conventions, to “disobey” in order to re-create a tangible, living, and liberated world.


Vlaminck met Derain, from nearby Chatou, and was the companion and gave the sense of direction that Derain was looking for. V was on a fortnight’s leave from the army, nearing the end of 3 year service. Met on a train from St Germain-en-Laye (suburb of Paris) to the Gare St Lazare, 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: “D was the first not to laugh at my artistic efforts, to take some interest in them.”

No concept before this of painting as a profession, more like sport.

With Sernada (see military experience above) he published (Offenstadt brothers) from 1900-7

Winter 00-1 V and D shared a studio in a disused restaurant on the Ile de Chatou opposite the small town of Bougival. Began to paint in Carriere’s studio with D, Matisse, Puy and Marquet. He had to scrape the paint off his canvas after finishing because he could not afford to buy another one. Not much survives of his early work.

Reaction to the large Van Gogh show put on by the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in 1901: that he loved Van Gogh, not better than any other painter, but better than his own father. 1 Vlaminck’s take on C:

For us Cezanne was a great fellow, but aside from that, the meaning of his experiments remained mysterious.

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.

Would do a canvas a day.

Worked in his early days as a violinist in cafes and theaters. The experience with the sleazy reality of the world made him recoil in disgust, as opposed to express it as Kirchner the German Expressionist did. V liked the rural life and drew his inspiration from nature.

His style was similar at the end of his life as at the beginning. “The dark, agitated paint, whipped up by thick flicks of lighter color, which he used in 1900, returned once the fevered color of the Fauve period had subsided.” 1

Take on Signac, “His bombastic, bureaucratic manner got on my nerves.”


My Father’s House, exhibited at the Salon des Independants, shows his bravura style, also suppression of I, NI and Nabis charm. V and D condemning a whole epoch.


Vlaminck procured an African mask which he sold to D who in turn showed it to Picasso and Matisse.3 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. Also began spending a lot of time with Braque and Picasso working towards cubism.



1)    Fauvism, Sarah Whitfield, Thames and Hudson pub, 1991.