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André Derain is best known for his contributions to the developments of Fauvism and Cubism, two avant-garde movements from the beginning of the 20th century. Derain was born on June 17, 1880 in Chatou, just outside of Paris. He began his training by attending painting classes under French symbolist, Eugène Carrière at the Académie Carriere (1898-1899). While at school, he befriended Henri Matisse, and in 1900, he met Maurice de Vlaminck, with whom he later shared a studio. The three often painted together, and were instrumental figures in each other’s artistic development. Derain spent the summer of 1905 with Matisse in Collioure, a small village in the South of France. This was a pivotal period for the artist: he explored techniques of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and produced paintings such as Mountains at Collioure (1905) and Boats of Collioure (1905). These landscapes assimilated an impressionist subject with a divisionist technique, and the bold color palettes of Van Gogh and Gauguin. Derain showed many of his new paintings at the 1905 exhibition Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon). After seeing the show the art critic Louis Vauxcelle called Derain, Matisse and others from their circle ‘Fauves’ (‘wild beasts’ in French), thus marking the establishment of Fauvism. The name ‘Fauve’ reflected a mixed impression; it recognized the vibrancy and unrestrained energy of their paintings but also expressed a sense of shock and apprehension. The Parisian art dealer, Ambroise Vollard took notice of Derain’s talents and sent him to paint several views of London. During his three visits to London (between March 1906 and February 1907), Derain painted some of his most revered paintings like Charing Cross Bridge, London (1906) and The Pool of London (1906). In the following years, Derain’s style was eclectic, and his innovation stemmed from his ability to meld different sources of inspiration. For instance in The Dance (1906), he combined the influences of Paul Gauguin, Romanesque sculpture and East Asian art. Derain’s broad range of influences and references related to his love of galleries and museums – he frequented French museums and was very familiar with their collections. From 1907, the most dominant influence for Derain was Paul Cézanne. By 1908, he broke away from Fauvism, focusing on angled forms modeled after Cézanne and a more muted color palette. Paintings like Bathers (ca. 1908) and Landscape near Martigues (1908) reflected the influence of Cézanne, but also Derain’s own strides towards a Cubist style. With the outbreak of World War I, Derain was mobilized for military service and had little opportunity to paint until his release in 1919. After his return, Derain began reflecting on the works of Old Masters and positioned himself as a leader of a renewed classicism. In Madame Derain in a white shawl (ca. 1919-1920) for example, Derain adopted compositional and stylistic elements from the early Italian Renaissance art. Derain believed that art should ‘equalize time’, meaning that all great art regardless of its superficial form deals with the universal truths that shape the human experience. Derain’s style remained consistent until his death in 1954.
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