Andre Derain: Founder of Fauvism
Andre Derain is the founder of the Fauvism Movement. Andre Derain was born in 1880 in Chatou, in an artist’s colony outside of Paris. Originally, Derain intended to become an engineer. In 1898, he enrolled in the Academie Carriere in Paris where he met Henri Matisse. After his compulsory military service from 1900-1904, Derain convinced his parents to allow him to abandon his engineering studies and continue studying to become a painter.
Andre exhibited his work at the Salon des Independants and then at the Salon d'Automne with Matisse, Vlaminck and others, inadvertently creating the movement of Fauvism. Derain and Matisse had worked together in the summer of 1905 in Collioure, France. Later that same year they displayed their innovative paintings at the Salon d'Automne. The vivid, unnatural colors in the paintings led one critic to dub their works as “les Fauves”, or "the wild beasts". Thanks to this negative comment, the Fauvism movement was born.
Derain in particular had painted a portrait of London that was radically different from anything done by previous painters of the city. With bold colors and compositions, Derain painted multiple pictures of the Thames and Tower Bridge. These London paintings remain among his most popular works.
In 1906, Derain met Pablo Picasso and his dealer, who purchased Derain's entire studio, creating immediate financial success. During this time, he was hired for the illustrations for works by Guillaume, Apollinaire and Andre Breton. Pablo’s Cubism movement affected Derain’s work post World War I.
At about this time Derain's work began overtly reflecting his study of the masters. The role of color was reduced and the form became restricted. During 1911–1914 are referred to as his ‘gothic period’. In 1914 Derain was held for military service in World War I. He did not paint until 1919 except in 1916 when he did a set of illustrations for André Breton's first book, Mont de Piete.
After the war, Derain won new fame as a leader of the renewed classicism movement. With the wild years of Fauvism years behind him, he was known as a traditionalist. In 1919 he designed the set and costumes for the ballet La Boutique fantasque for Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes. This positive experience lead to Derain creating many ballet set and costume designs.
The 1920s saw the height of Derain’s success. 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.
Derain stayed in Paris during most of the occupation during World War II, where he was favored by the Nazis because of his supposed artistic integrity. The German Foreign Minister commissioned him to paint a family portrait of Hitler, but he refused.
In his old age, Derain later lost most of his eyesight. He was hit by a truck in 1954, dying a few days later.