The painting style of Fauvism
Fauvism is a style of painting in which artists used brilliant, intense colors, simplified lines, and overstated perspectives. They believed color had an emotional force which individual Fauvists used for different reasons. Originality and impulsiveness were preferred over the actual finished product. This movement had a somewhat brief span from 1901-1906 and consisted of no specific philosophies. By 1907, the artists involved in this movement began to give way to other modern movements.
Originating in Paris, three exhibitions were held there displaying this style. Les Fauves, the French word for wild beasts, were a group of modern artists that emphasized these qualities within their art. It is believed that art critic Louis Vauxcelles gave the group the name “Les Fauves.” Consequentially, they gladly adhered to the name that had originally been given to them as an insult.
The movement’s motivational teacher Gustave Moreau, who was also a professor at an influential fine arts school in Paris, taught his students to imagine and think outside the boundaries of traditional art and to pursue their own inner visualizations. Among his students were Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, who were leaders of this movement in art history.
Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, the Nabis, and the neoimpressionists were the most significant influences on Fauvism. Vincent van Gogh once stated, “Instead of trying to render what I see before me, I use color in a completely arbitrary way to express myself powerfully”. The Fauvists took this concept further, interpreting their feelings with color that some may call somewhat of a coarse and awkward approach.
In the midst of the Fauvist movement you can find the art of its founder Henri Matisse. Artists such as Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Georges Braque among many others were also a part of this movement.
When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky.
Known as one of the most inventive and original artists of this century, Henri Matisse conducted stunning trials using vivid color. His experiments indicated a defining moment in art history. He created the foundation for many succeeding artistic developments. Matisse began painting somewhat late in his lifetime. He found painting to be the ultimate channel to express one’s self and to retreat from day to day existence. We know him to be the leader of the Fauvist movement as he forged his own distinct style of art.
Andre Derain, along with Henri Matisse, was one of the founding fathers of Fauvism. He is also known to be one of the Fauvist movements most untamed artists. He was influenced by Vincent van Gogh, as were many of the Fauves. He did not adhere to the style of the Impressionists. As an alternative, he preferred to use broad and irregular brush strokes of color. In 1905, he worked along side Matisse to carry the method towards maturity.
Works of the Fauves
Henri Matisse’s painting The Open Window, Collioure was a painting created during the Fauvist movement. The view in this painting is overflowing with light. It is vibrantly painted and inviting to those that look at it. The red colored masts atop the blue boats drift on pink waves. The sky is colored with shades of blue, pink, and purple. You can see a reflection of bright green color in the glass of the window that frames the outdoor scenery. The walls that surround the view are violet just to the right of the window and turquoise to the left. One would note that these are not the natural colors that would be in such as scent and this painting created an outrage in its original exhibition. The people of his time were not ready for an art such as this.
Raoul Dufy’s Open Window was painted much differently than that of Henri Matisse. While his colors were bright like the typical fauvist painting, they were placed much more realistically. This painting shows a living room scene with a window opened to the outside world. When peering outside, you will see that the water and the sky are realistically painted different shades of blues. The houses set upon the hill are white with red tile-like roofs. The room itself has reds and blues and there is a mirror to the right that reflects the balcony scene outside the window as it truly is. Although the shades are much brighter than what is true to life, the colors themselves that are used are as they should be. You can see that Dufy did not push the extent of Fauvism the way that Matisse did in his similar painting. Perhaps he wasn’t willing to take the risk that Henri Matisse did.
In 1906, Andre Derain created a painting entitled Charing Cross Bridge. Derain displayed his preference for bright colors. In this painting you see a scene that contains mostly water. The water is unrealistically colored red, green, gold, and blue. There is a blue bridge that crosses over the water and to the left of the paintings are various small buildings that appear to be shops and maybe restaurants. They are of different shades of blue and small sections of green and red. Five boats of deep blue color are lined up next to the shops in the red section of the water. In the background, there are tall skyscraper buildings that are green and blue, indicating that the scene is near a city. The sky is pink and orange with hints of yellow. This painting demonstrates Derain’s untamed style that he is well known for.
I personally am partial to the paintings of the Fauves. The use of color to display one’s feelings and emotions is extraordinary. I enjoy the bright vivid colors that they used. It’s unfortunate that this movement didn’t last longer than it did. It seems that Fauvism gave birth to several new and fresh styles of art. It is my feeling that perhaps the world was not quite ready for the type of art that these “wild beasts” created, but it was the beginning of things new and different.
The main sources for this report were:
Henri Matisse’s quote can be found here: