Art of Class, Malaga, Spain

Un coin de Hyde-Park (aka: A corner of Hyde-Park) by André Derain

André Derain Biography

André Derain

André Derain was born on June 10, 1880, in Chatou. He began to paint when he was mid-teens. He studied at the Academy Carrière in Paris (1898-1899), where he met Henri-Matisse. Derain was a close friend of Maurice de Vlaminck, with whom he shared a studio from 1900 to 1901, and also his radical views on painting, literature, and politics. Derain was drawn, through Vlaminck and Matisse, into the art movement known as Fauvism. Derain's first artistic attempts were interrupted by military service (1901-1904), after which he devoted himself to art. He experienced impressionism, divisionism, the style of Gauguin and Van Gogh, also considering Vlaminck's and Matisse's techniques by applying them to his own work. He studied in the Louvre and travelled a great deal in France to paint its various landscapes. He spent the summer of 1905 at Collioure with Matisse, then exhibited with the Fauves that autumn. Art dealer Ambrose Vollard signed a contract with Derain in 1905, and the following year the artist went to London to paint some scenes of the city commissioned by the dealer. Derain's Westminster Bridge is one of his Fauve masterpieces. Around 1908 Derain became interested in African sculpture and at the same time explored the work of Paul Cézanne and early cubism. He became a friend of Pablo Picasso and worked with him in Catalonia in 1910. In Derain's work, which comprises landscapes, figure compositions (sometimes religious), portraits, still lifes, sculptures, decors for ballets, and book illustrations, we can discern various periods, all of which are distinguished by masterpieces. In 1911 he was attracted by Italian and French primitive masters; he also admired the "primitive" art of Henri Rousseau. After World War I, during which Derain served at the front, he studied the masters of the early Renaissance and then Pompeian art. All these experiences influenced his work, emerging finally as a realist, and intensified his contact with nature. In rejecting the cerebral art of cubism and abstraction, he defended the return of the human figure to painting. His development as an artist was very dramatic, and although Picasso called him a "guide de musées" (not an innovator, more a traditionalist), Derain's work will survive many of his contemporaries because of its unique qualities. Toward the end of his life Derain lived out of the public eye in his country home at Chambourcy. The retrospective exhibition in Paris in 1937 was the climax of fame in his lifetime. He died in Garches on Sept. 2, 1954...

Artist's Statement

Derain Famously said, "Fauvism was our ordeal by fire... colours 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..."
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