André Derain (10 June 1880 – 8 September 1954) was a French painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism together with Henri Matisse.
Andre Derain was born in Chatou, Yvelines, Île-de-France, an outer suburb of Paris. From an early age, Derain took an interest in art and at 15 started painting classes.
When Derain began studying engineering, he continued painting classes in the evenings. It was in these evening classes that he met Henri Matisse. His heart wasn’t into engineering and he dropped out. Derain clearly wanted to dedicate his time to painting and art only.
The Beginnings of Fauvism Art
Throughout the summer of 1905, Andre Derain and Henri Matisse painted together in the seaside village of Collioure. It was during this period that the two of them experimented with bold and unnatural colors. They exhibited these colorful but radical paintings at the Salon d’Automne. Their paintings caused a huge stir in the art world!
The art critic Louis Vauxcelles coined their paintings as “Les Fauves”, translated as “the wild beasts”!
This description stuck and their colorful style of painting was called Fauvism art.
A year later, a renowned art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, commissioned Derain to paint a series of London cityscapes. Derain spent time in London and painted 30 canvases in total. He portrayed the English capital in a totally different way.
He captured London using the fauve style. Even today, the London canvases are still one of Derain’s most famous artworks.
“Fauvism was our ordeal by fire… colors became charges of dynamite. They were expected to charge light… The great merit of this method was to free the picture from all imitative and conventional contact” Andre Derain Quotes
The art critic T.G Rosenthal described the London cityscapes with the following praise: “Not since Monet has anyone made London seem so fresh and yet remain quintessentially English”
Derain’s Fauvism Art Provides him with Financial Stability
Derain’s fauvism art receives attention and postive reviews from the art world. So much so that in 1907 an art dealer walks into Derain’s studio and purchases EVERYTHING!! He is one of the lucky painters! He makes a comfortable living from his artwork.
Derain moves into Montmartre to be part of the active art scene. It is during this period that he meets and hangs out with Picasso and Cezanne. He starts experimenting with stone sculpture and his painting style changes. Derain moves away from the bold colors of fauvism art and starts painting with softer tones. He even dabbles with Cubism for a while.
Andre Derain’s Gothic Period – A Return to Traditional Painting
As with many painters, Derain experiments with different styles. It is said that he even destroys most of his unsold Fauvist paintings as he no longer likes them!!
From around 1911–1914 his paintings start reflecting the more traditional style of the Old Masters. Derain returns to classical painting.
During WW1, Derain is enlisted and his painting careers is put on hold. However after the war, he continues to paint in the neoclassicism style.
Derain reached the peak of his success in the 1920s. He receives prizes and exhibits his artworks internationally.
World War Two Years – A Nazi Collaborator??
During WW2, Derain lived in Paris for most of the time. The Germans gave him special attention as he symbolized to them the best of French culture. Derain enjoyed this attention. When he received an invitation for an official visit to Germany in 1941 to attend a Nazi art exhibition, he graciously accepted.
The Nazis photographed Derain’s visit to Germany to use as Nazi propaganda. However these photos after the war were used against him. Derain was branded and ostracized by many as a Nazi collaborator. The French considered him a traitor.
Andre Derain’s Legacy
Derain was one of the fortunate artists to receive great recognition and success during his lifetime.
Over his long artistic career Derain experimented and adopted a large range of styles. His most notable achievement however, was his significant role in the development of Fauvism art. The unrestrained use of color was a new means of artistic interpretation, influencing generations of future painters.
Where to View Andre Derain’s Paintings in Paris:
- The Musée d’Art Moderne showcases a rich collection of Andre Derain artworks. It owns 22 Derain paintings from all the different art movements he experimented with – Fauvism, Cubism & Classism. The museum also exhibit’s Derain’s drawings, sculptures and pottery. For more information about hours, tickets and current exhibitions, press here.
- The impressive Centre Pompidou has the second largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world. In this museum you will also find a large range of Derain artworks including drawing and sculpture. It showcases 37 Derain paintings, highlighting his different painting styles.
- Musée de l’Orangerie is a beautiful museum most famous for it’s huge Monet waterlilies. However this museum also has an impressive collection of Andre Derain’s paintings. It is definitely a must for all Derain fans
- Musee D’Orsay displays one of Derain’s most famous London paintings called “The Bridge of Charing Cross”
Follow the Footsteps of Andre Derain in Collioure – The birthplace of Fauvism Art
Follow the footsteps of the Fauves Andre Derain and Henri Matisse in Collioure. Relive their summer of 1905 in this seaside village by going on a Fauvism walking tour. Press here for more information. Note however that tours are in French only.