What is Fauvism?
Fauvism is the name given to the work produced by a group of artists (which included Henri Matisse and André Derain) circa 1905–1910, characterized by bold, pure colors aggressively applied directly from paint tubes to create a feeling of explosion on canvas with fierce brushstrokes. Like the Impressionists, the Fauvists painted directly in nature but the subjects were portrayed in a strong and expressive way.
What is the history of Fauvism?
First formally displayed in Paris in 1905, the Fauvist paintings shocked visitors to the annual Salon d'Automne. One of these visitors was the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who, due to the violence of the works presented, dubbed the painters fauves (“wild animals”). The paintings on display by Derain and Matisse were the result of a summer spent working in Collioure, in the south of France. Other artists associated with Fauvism include Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, Georges Rouault and Maurice de Vlaminck.
Inspired by the scientific theory of colors developed in the 19th century – particularly those related to complementary colors – the Fauvists created simplified paintings, full of strong colors that complement each other but are not naturalistic. Color theory explains that complementary colors are pairs of colors that appear opposite in scientific models, like the color wheel, and when used side by side in a painting, make each other appear brighter.
Fauvist artists broke away from traditional Impressionist methods and innovatively experimented with exaggerated colors, composing their paintings based on wild color contrasts. Fauvists preferred to combine complementary colors such as purple and yellow, magenta and green, or orange and blue. These colors are on opposite sides of the color wheel and were often chosen as the main colors of Fauvist paintings. However, Fauvist artists did not choose colors based on scientific theory as post-impressionists did, but on feeling, observation and the nature of each chromatic experience. The Fauves used color radically, advocating the release of color from realistic representation, giving it emotionally charged meanings.
They rejected the optical realism created by Impressionism, such as realistic portraits, and did not apply perspective or use light shadow effects. The spontaneous and subjective responses to the subjects in their works were expressed through broken brush strokes and vivid colors, using paint straight from the tube. Thus, they moved away from urban themes and returned to themes such as countryside landscapes, leisure or portraits. Impulsive lines, spontaneous compositions and a simplified drawing technique are the essential characteristics in Fauve paintings.Influences from earlier movements inspired Matisse and other painters to reject traditional three-dimensional space and use patches of color to create a new pictorial space. It has often been compared to German Expressionism, a movement that emerged around the same time and was also inspired by developments in Post-Impressionism.
Influences: The Fauvism Movement in contemporary times
Fauvism was one of the first avant-garde modernist movements of the 20th century to take steps towards abstraction. This was a transitional movement for artists who adopted a Fauvist approach, with most, by the late 1910s, moving away from expressive Fauvism. However, Henri Matisse he continued to use Fauvist traits throughout his career, from bright emotive colors to simple shapes.
The truth is that the most famous Fauvist art pieces are predominantly by Matisse. Works such as Bonheur de Vivre and Dance have remained iconic and instantly recognizable paintings as they combine a mystical and euphoric theme with distinct plasticity and an enhanced palette.The typical traits of Fauvism have the ability to appear timeless and innovative. Even today, artists continue to use bold colors and decisive brushstrokes to create vibrant works of art. Many of our artists follow the Fauvist tradition, modifying elements and applying gestural block strokes, saturated colors or a renewed look at perspective.
Most Famous Fauvist Paintings
The most famous Fauvist artworks were created by three of the leading exponents of Fauvism: Henri Matisse, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck.
The Joy of Life Henri Matisse
Inspired by Cezanne, Henri Matisse began experimenting with color, painting many landscapes during the summers he spent in the south of France. One of them, entitled “Alegria da Vida” (1905), portrays an idyllic and imaginary scene with bright and cheerful colors. A notable element in this painting is the group of dancing figures that resembles a group of figures in one of Matisse's later paintings, The Dance (1909).
Charing Cross Bridge by André Derain
André Derain and Henri Matisse attended the Carrière Académie having met at that time. The desire to put color as the main element of expression emerged when he rented an apartment in Chatou with Maurice de Vlaminck. In 1905, he worked with Matisse at Collioure and arrived at a harmonious representation of the decorative landscape. He began to experiment with color, merging it into large surfaces surrounded by defined contours. This technique was applied in the painting “Charing Cross Bridge”.
The River Seine at Chatou by Maurice de Vlaminck
next to your peers Henri Matisse and André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck is considered the third main figure of Fauvism. His innovative approach to landscape, form and color helped establish him as one of the pioneering artists of his time. From the age of sixteen, he lived in Chatou, a small village, where the painter spent a lot of time with his friends Matisse and Derain. In the summer of 1906, while observing the landscape of the village, he intuitively applied paint, creating O rio Sena em Chatou (1906).