André Derain (10 June 1880 – 8 September
1954) was a French painter and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri
André Derain was born in 1880
in Chatou, Yvelines, Île-de-France, just outside Paris. In 1898,
while studying to be an engineer at the Académie Camillo, he attended painting
classes under Eugène Carrière, and there met Matisse.
In 1900, he met and shared a studio with Maurice de Vlaminck and began to paint his
His studies were interrupted from 1901 to 1904 when he was conscriptedinto the French army. Following his release from service, Matisse persuaded
Derain's parents to allow him to abandon his engineering career and devote
himself solely to painting; subsequently Derain attended the Académie
Derain and Matisse worked together through the summer of 1905 in the Mediterraneanvillage of Collioureand later that year displayed their highly innovative paintings at the Salon
d'Automne. The vivid, unnatural colors led the critic Louis
Vauxcelles to derisively dub their works as les Fauves,
or "the wild beasts", marking the start of the Fauvist movement.
In March 1906, the noted art dealer Ambroise
Vollard sent Derain to London to compose a series of paintings with the
city as subject. In 30 paintings (29 of which are still extant), Derain put
forth a portrait of London that was radically different from anything done by
previous painters of the city such as Whistler or Monet.
With bold colors and compositions, Derain painted multiple pictures of the Thames and Tower
Bridge. These London paintings remain among his most popular work.
In 1907 art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler purchased Derain's
entire studio, granting Derain financial stability. He experimented with stone
sculpture and moved to Montmartre to be near his friend Pablo
Picasso and other noted artists.
At Montmartre, Derain began to shift from the brilliant Fauvist palette to
more muted tones, showing the influence of Cubism and Paul
Cézanne. Derain supplied woodcuts in primitiviststyle for an edition of Guillaume Apollinaire's first book of prose, L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909). He
displayed works at the Neue Künstlervereinigung in Munich in 1910, in1912 at the secessionist Der Blaue Reiter and in
1913 at the seminal Armory Show in New York. He also illustrated a
collection of poems by Max Jacob in 1912.
At about this time Derain's work began overtly reflecting his study of the old masters.
The role of color was reduced and forms became austere; the years 1911-1914 are
sometimes referred to as his gothic period. In 1914 he was mobilized for military
service in World War I and until his release in 1919 he would have
little time for painting, although in 1916 he provided a set of illustrations
for André Breton's first book, Mont de Piete.
After the war, Derain won new acclaim as a leader of the renewed classicismthen ascendant. With the wildness of his Fauve years far behind, he was admired
as an upholder of tradition. In 1919 he designed the balletLa Boutique fantasque for Diaghilev,
leader of the Ballets Russes. A major success, it would lead to
his creating many ballet designs.
The 1920s marked the height of his success, as he was awarded the Carnegie
Prize in 1928 and began to exhibit extensively abroad — in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf,
New York City and Cincinnati, Ohio.
During the German occupation of France in World War
II, Derain lived primarily in Paris and was much courted by the Germans
because he represented the prestige of French culture. Derain accepted an
invitation to make an official visit to Germany in 1941, traveling with other
French artists to Berlin to attend an exhibition by Nazi sculptor Arno Breker.
The Nazi propagandamachine naturally made much of Derain's presence in Germany, and after the Liberationhe was branded a collaborator and ostracized by many former supporters.
A year before his death, he contracted an eye infection from which he never
fully recovered. He died in Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France in 1954 when he was
struck by a moving vehicle.
Today, paintings by Derain sell for as much as US$6 million. The London
paintings were the subject of a major exhibition at the Courtauld Institute in 2005-06.
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- Clement, Russell (1994). Les
Fauves: A Sourcebook. Greenwood Press. Cowling, Elizabeth; Mundy,
Jennifer (1990). On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the
New Classicism 1910-1930. London: Tate Gallery. Hamilton, George Heard
(1993). Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1880-1940. Yale
- Sotriffer, Kristian (1972).
Expressionism and Fauvism. McGraw-Hill.