Reference Library: Fauvism
'Les Fauves' (French for wild beasts) were a short-lived and loose grouping of early Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities, and the use of deep color over the representational values retained by Impressionism. Fauvists simplified lines, made the subject of the painting easy to read, exaggerated perspectives and used brilliant but arbitrary colors. They also emphasized freshness and spontaneity over finish.
One of the fundamentals of the Fauves was expressed in 1888 by Paul Gauguin to Paul Sérusier,
:"How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine; these red leaves? Put in vermilion."
The name was given (humourously) to the group by art critic Louis Vauxcelles. In French, "Fauves" means "wild beasts." The painter Gustave Moreau was the movement's inspirational teacher, and a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris who pushed his students to think outside of the lines of formality and to follow their visions.
The leaders of the movement, Moreau's top students, were Henri Matisse and André Derain — friendly rivals of a sort, each with his own followers. The paintings, for example Matisse's 1908 The Dessert or Derain's The Two Barges, use powerful reds or other forceful colors to draw the eye. Matisse became the yang to Picasso's yin in the 20th century while time has trapped Derain at the century's beginning, a "wild beast" forever. Their disciples included Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, Charles Camoin, the Belgian painter Henri Evenepoel, Jean Puy, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, Georges Rouault, the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, and Picasso's partner in Cubism, Georges Braque.
Fauvism, as a movement, had no concrete theories, and was short lived (they only had three exhibitions). Matisse was seen as a leader of the movement. He said he wanted to create art to delight; art as a decoration was his purpose; therefore his use of bright colors tries to maintain serenity of composition.
Among the influences of the movement were Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, both of whom had begun using colors in a brighter, more imaginative manner.
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