Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for “the wild beasts”), a loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. While Fauvism as a style began around 1900 and continued beyond 1910, the movement as such lasted only a few years, 1904–1908, and had three exhibitions. The leaders of the movement were Henri Matisse and André Derain.
Besides Matisse and Derain, other artists included Albert Marquet, Charles Camoin, Louis Valtat, the Belgian painter Henri Evenepoel, Maurice Marinot, Jean Puy, Maurice de Vlaminck, Henri Manguin, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, Georges Rouault, Jean Metzinger, the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, the Swiss painter Alice Bailly, and Georges Braque (subsequently Picasso’s partner in Cubism).
The paintings of the Fauves were characterized by seemingly wild brush work and strident colors, while their subject matter had a high degree of simplification and abstraction. Fauvism can be classified as an extreme development of Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism fused with the pointillism of Seurat and other Neo-Impressionist painters, in particular Paul Signac. Other key influences were Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, whose employment of areas of saturated color—notably in paintings from Tahiti—strongly influenced Derain’s work at Collioure in 1905. In 1888 Gauguin had said to Paul Sérusier:
• Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Leader of “Les Fauves”. Separated colour from its traditional references and thus liberated its expressive force.
• Andre Derain (1880-1954)
Used wide brush-strokes and a beautiful range of blues, greens and purples.
• Othon Friesz (1879-1949)
Le Havre artist with loose, highly coloured style. Fauvism was his peak.
• Albert Marquet (1875-1947)
Produced small-scale works with harmonious colour and lyrical qualities.
• Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Emotional man; created great “fizz” from subtle mixes of red, blue, yellow, green.
• Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Dutch-born painter active in France. Specialized in nudes and female portraits.
• Raoul Dufy (1877-1953
Combined clarity of line with vivid colour.
• Georges Braque (1882-1963)
Demonstrated great interest in the organization of forms.
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