FAUVISM

H

Henri Matisse, Interior at Collioure (The Rest), 1905 Andre Derain, Tree Landscape on the River Bank, 1905 Andre Derain, London Bridge, 1905-6

Maurice Vlaminck, The Siene at Pont Chatou, 1905-6 Maurice Vlaminck, Potatoe Pickers, 1905-7 Georges Braque, Landscape at L'Estaque, 1906

WHO WERE THE FAUVISTS?

Three closely knit groups:

(1) Students of Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts:
Henri Matisse - (M) had some notice previous to the Paris Salon d’Automne exhibition of 1905. Taught by Gustave Moreau starting in 1895.
Henri Manguin
Albert Marquet
Charles Camoin

(2) Moreau dies 1898, next year Matisse at Academie Carriere meets
Jean Puy
Andre Derain - (D) Derain remains independent with close friend...
Maurice Vlaminck - (V) whom he introduces to Matisse in 01? (see Schools) They exhibit with Matisse and company in 05.

(3) 1906?*: Three painters from Le Havre join:
Emile-Othon Friesz
Raoul Dufy
Georges Braque

Friesz and Dufy exhibited at the 1905 Salon d'Automne 1905.4  

Also loosely associated were Georges Rouault (also a student of Moreau) and Kees Van Dongen (moved to Paris from Holland in 1899)

BACKGROUND

A critic, Louis Vauxcelles, sarcastically pronounced at seeing the paintings of M, Marquet, Derain, Vlaminck, Camoin and Manguin at the Paris Salon d’Automne Exhibition in 1905 which hung in a room with two, small, white classicizing sculptures, "Donatello parmi les fauves." (Donatello among the wild beasts). It was a close short lived association. "Revolutionary, brilliantly colored style."2

"Brief and impassioned, the fauvist adventure would last only four years from 1904-1908." The term was invented in 1910.4

"The discovery of African sculpture by modernists took place within the circle of Fauves." In 1906 Vlaminck procured an African mask which he sold to D who in turn showed it to Picasso and Matisse.3

Matisse oldest and the leader, backed away after group received public recognition, weakened the identity and fauve became synonymous with avant garde.
Bond was friendship, not creed or even opinions.
D and V close until war in 14. Braque advanced into cubism and close to Picasso, had support of Friesz and Dufy, but ties dissolved over time. Matisse and D worked together in south of France summer 05, these are the works that lead to the name fauve.
By 1907 apparent fauvism not a school, but a "restless search for style."
Marquet and Friesz date the beginning to 1900.
The minor fauves reflected impressionism. It was D, Matisse, V and Braque that "rigorously opposed to the lyrical charm of Impressionism."

Fauvism was the first movement to insist in explicit terms that a painting is the sum of the marks made on the canvas rather than a mirror held up to life, or to nature, or to literature (which) accounts for the chief characteristics of the first true Fauve paintings being composed of briskly applied strokes, patches and dabs of brilliant color. 2

V bought back and redated some of his early F canvases. Volumes of autobiography to settle old scores. Derain called this period "youthful brashness."
Matisse good friends with the Belgian painter Henri Evenepoel. But in 1898 E writes to his father that he is "…unable to sanction…" Matisse.
Matisse and Marquet take trips to Arceuil and the Luxembourg gardens. Matisse breaking with I in 00. Influence of Cezanne being noticed. Vlaminck’s take on C,
"For us Cezanne was a great fellow, but aside from that, the meaning of his experiments remained mysterious."

M on the other hand scrapes together money to buy a small Bathers from Vollard and believed C had "unshackled painting from its representational role by making the paint itself the subject of the picture: the way in which every form in a C canvas is invested with equal weight regardless of its size" 2
Early historian of the fauves: Georges Duthuit.

TIMELINE

1899

Matisse leaves the Ecole now a year after Moreau’s death as he was coming on thirty and reaching the school’s age limit. But it may have also been his new teacher’s (Fernand Cormon) opinion of his view of the Quai St Michel.
M meets Derain and Puy in a class run by Carriere.
M and D were eager to impose their imagination on what they saw.
M and Marquet attempting to "discover ways in which to release painting from its descriptive or documentary role: the canvases… revel in the texture, the color and the very substance of paint."2
Other painters at this time along these lines: Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Rene Seyssaud, Provencal (historians have classified him as a fauve), Louis Valtat (also loosely bracketed with the fauves)

Valtat and Seyssaud looked back and reflected fauvist's ‘school aspect’. Matisse’s use of pure vermilion to model the face had the purpose of making the nose and forehead project outwards while Vuillard, Valtat or Seyssaud used patches of color to eradicate modeling in order to flatten the surface absolutely (fb).
"Vuillard built up with blocks of color used pictorially rather than descriptively"2
D and M very articulate with each other. Marquet and Vlaminck ill at ease with discussion. 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: "(D) not only put back the color but reinforced the expression" The Louvre nearly threw D out for ‘assassinating beauty’. The Louvre forbid Evenepoel’s sketching visitors as well as paintings.

M was ten years older than D, and married with small children. They probably saw little of each other outside the classroom.
D lived with his parents who ran a prosperous confectioner’s shop in Chatou. Disappointed that he gave up engineering studies, they paid him only a small allowance and he was a part time errand boy.

1900

By the end of the year M, D, V, Puy and Marquet are all working together in Carriere’s studio. M recalls:

How many sessions, tests of patience have we sat through? Side by side each dragging his own particular burden along with him together with a respect for the thoughts of those beside him which seems almost inhuman.

Meal times and the end of the day brought no one any closer. Each wold close his box and put his canvas away without a word to anyone.

D met Vlaminck: from nearby Vesinet, intelligent, tough, rumbustious, and politically active. V was the companion and gave the sense of direction D was looking for. V was on a fortnight’s leave from the army, nearing the end of 3 year service. They met on a train from St Germain-en-Laye (suburb of Paris) to the Gare St Lazare. That night they were both on the same return train which halted due to a derailment up ahead. They walked home. They painted together the next day which was possibly the first day V shared his work. He said, "D was the first not to laugh at my artistic efforts, to take some interest in them."
While V would do a canvas a day, M and D put more deliberation into their paintings. M said to Henri Manguin that each painting needed ten sittings. V not so much an expressionist as he preferred the simple life while 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."

1904

M realizes that Derain and Vlaminck have been influenced by the Post Impressionists also. (Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Seurat) Had not really gotten to know the paintings of D and V.

The fauves were relatively cut off from their immediate predecessors for early 19th century France as compared to other movements. Van Gogh died 1890, Seurat in 1891, Gauguin mostly absent from France since 91, died 03 and Cezanne living in seclusion in Aix. "Seurat had been the one most closely committed to finding, and adhering to, a practical theory of art and so it was that his meticulous experiments with color and his uncompromising modern subject matter had given rise to Neo-Impressionism, the only school of Post-Impressionism. Thanks to Paul Signac, his disciple, NI grew to dominance.

Summer: M and family joins Signac at St. Tropez (S’s house). M also met Cross that summer. M used the Divisionist style well into 05. See Luxe, calme et volupte’.

A session carried out over several days with Marquet and Manguin immediately after M's return, probably in Manguin’s studio at 61 rue Boursault, is documented by three paintings.See p53.2

The mechanics of Divisionism was a valuable lesson to M, M and M and briefly to Derain, who did a couple in 1905. Trees: "the touches of primary colors cover the surface like confetti, suggesting the fragility of filtered light, and this tenderness is carried though in the slender trunks of the trees which are made to fall like ribbons from the top of the canvas." 2

M and friends were exhibiting at the Salon des Independents regularly and members of the organizing Societe’. Puy was elected in 00, Marquet in 01, Camoin and Manguin in 02. In 04 M was promoted to secretaire adjoint by Signac, VP, who also appointed M chairman of the hanging committee which included Camoin, Manguin, Marquet and Puy.

1905

La Nouvelle Revue noted in a review of the Salon des Independants, "a small bay containing a group of very interesting works by artists who have followed the liberal teachings of Gustave Moreau and among whom a kind of link has grown up, no matter what the differences in temperament and technique." They were labeled Gustave-moristes. In his front page review in the Paris daily Gil Blas, Vauxcelles nominates Matisse as head of the ‘school’ of former Moreau pupils. Much critical notice.

They sold a slew of paintings.

Began to attract followers. Raoul Dufy’s reaction to M’s Luxe.

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’."2 Contrast between deep shadow in the foreground to brilliant light.

V’s My Father’s House (05), exhibited at the 05 Salon des Independants, shows his bravura style, also suppression of I, NI and Nabis charm. V and D condemning a whole epoch.

M concerned with ‘surface united in a harmonic order."

Matisse and Derain: Summer in Collioure

M went to Collioure, a remote fishing port near the Spanish border, probably recommended by Signac who painted there. Camoin, Manguin, and Marquet went to St. Tropez to look for support and guidance from NI. M had new confidence from Luxe. D joined him 6 weeks after M arrived into a cheap boarding house room on the quayside with his family. D was now financed by his family thanks to a visit by M and Amelie. Vollard bought up D’s entire studio collection in 05 on M’s reccomendation.

M quotes:

We were at that time like children in the face of nature and we let our temperaments speak, even to the point of painting from the imagination when nature herself could not be used… to free the picture from any imitative or conventional contact.

What characterized Fauvism was that we rejected imitative colors and that with pure colors we obtained stronger reactions – more striking simultaneous reactions; and there was also the luminosity of our colors.

M mostly sketching in order to build a body of work to use during the fall and winter months. This work changed the perspective on what constitutes finished work. He expressed his doubts on what he was doing in letters to Signac. D produced twice the canvases M did. It cannot be known how much D reworked his paintings.

Abolition of the conventional sense of the distance btw canvas and spectator is a hallmark of Fauvism. M’s paintings at Collioure evident his concern with the substance of things.

D cooler ground color than M.

Manguin has an easy temperment with caressing brush strokes (The Vale St. Tropez) which differs significantly from the violent, attacking marks made by M and D. In Manguin: distanct reeds from the foreground, traditional. M and D achieve flatness of surface.

M and D achieve a 3D effect with the blocks and wedges of color while the unpainted canvas are like "untouched areas of a woodblock." D, V and M did turn to woodcuts and carving.

Subject: nature: Smaller elements receive equal (unnatural) weight, sand in a D is painted on by a heavy stroke – inspired by Van Gogh?

1906

"The discovery of African sculpture by modernists took place within the circle of Fauves." In 1906 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. D also began spending a lot of time with Braque and Picasso "working towards a radical abstract version of Cezannism, in the name of primitive, that soon came to represent the earliest form of Cubism".3

 

SOURCES

1)    Masters of Color: Derain to Kandinsky exhibit Royal Academy of Art London 2002.
2)    Fauvism, Sarah Whitfield, Thames and Hudson pub, 1991
3)    Cubism and Culture, Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten. Thames & Hudson world of art, 2001.
4)    Pompadeau National Modern Art Museum, Paris, 2003.