André Derain French, 1880-1954

Overview

French painter André Derain was a founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse.

Biography

André Derain painted his first works at the age of fifteen. He enrolled at the Académie Carrière in Paris, where he met Henri Matisse and Maurice de Vlaminck, whom he befriended and with whom he shared a studio in Chatou, before developing a closer association with Matisse. In 1901, Vlaminck and Derain were profoundly impressed by an exhibition of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. The two artists' own works began to attract the attention of critics, who even identified them as the ‘Ecole de Chatou’, of which they were the sole exponents.

 

In 1905, Derain exhibited for the first time at the Salon d'Automne, together with Vlaminck and Matisse. Their vibrantly colored works caused the critic Louis Vauxcelles to brand them as ‘Fauves’ (wild animals).

 

Later Derain distanced himself from Vlaminck, and left Chatou for Montmartre. On the advice of the art merchant Ambroise Vollard, he travelled to London in 1905 and 1906, returning with some of his finest Fauvist works.

 

Back in Paris, he was asked by Guillaume Apollinaire to provide woodcut illustrations for his work L'Enchanteur pourrissant. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler published the book in 1909. Derain was conscripted during World War I, after which he painted in a more traditional style, focusing on nudes and landscapes. He enjoyed considerable success, and his new dealer Paul Guillaume secured his reputation and fame.

 

Derain produced oil paintings, but also over twenty different designs for theatrical sets and costumes, including works for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Derain was in great demand, but he exhibited only rarely at the various Paris Salons. Surprisingly, the artist held just four solo exhibitions in Paris during his lifetime, in 1916, 1931, 1937 and 1949.