Andre Derain a master of classical art
Andre Derain, was one of the founders of Fauvism, was born in 1880 at Chatou, France, and was destined by his father, a pastry baker, to become a technical engineer. However, he gave it up very soon and started to paint.
At an early stage, he came into contact with Matisse in Collioure, where they jointly painted the Mediterranean landscape in a new interpretation. Later, at Cadaques in Spain, he met Picasso, who induced him to paint still lives.
In 1903 he was thrown out of the Louvre because he copied the “Crossbearer” by Ghilandajo in a manner considered too daring by the authorities. In 1905 he took part in the first exhibition of the Fauvists with three landscapes painted in Collioure.
At first, he was influenced by Van Gogh, Cezanne and Signac, but later in his so-called “Gothic Period“ he was more attached to Giotto and to the Byzantine style.
From Poussin and Claude Lorraines, he learned in Rome the rules of classical landscape, and since that time he developed a personal style, which meant the beginning of his classicism.
Derain proved himself active not only in the domain of figure composition, of landscape and still life, but also in sculpture, ceramics and stage decors for the Russian Ballet.
He had his Paris studio in the Rue des Douaniers, precisely opposite the studio of Braque, by whom he befriended. But Derain was separated from Braque in his conception of art by a wider range than was symbolised by the narrow lane. Here two worlds clashed accidentally in close neighbourly contact: Fauvism against Cubism or, differently expressed, emotion against construction.
The fundamental principle of the art of Derain was emotion. This linked him with painters of similar disposition – Matisse, Rouault, Vlaminck, Dufy, Van Dongen and Marquet.
To attain the highest expression by distortion and pure pigments was the guiding principle of the group, which was named “Fauvism“ by Louis Vauxelles.
In the beginning, Durain distinguished himself a little from other members of the group, especially in his landscapes in red against green and blue. Gradually in his still life’s, nudes and portraits, he began to moderate his palate and developed a balance between brown, black and green. In this way, he achieved a classical style.
It was well known the Durain found his inspirations in the old masters of the Louvre more than in Nature. He combined the past with the modern spirit of his time.
By this approach, Derain set himself apart from his group and changed from rebel to an artist of stable balance. What remains was the emotion, which more and more yielded to an inner control. A master of synthesis, simplification and balance, he preserves the feelings which stimulate the picture and produce the human touch. This expression roved on a generous base, between enchantment, religious passion, sorrowfulness and sensuality.
This is what Derain had to say of his art: “We do not expect genius from a 20-year-old painter. We demand that they should work hard and that is only right.”
“Genius we expect from mature artists who have passed 40 years old and who know the intricacies of life – those who have suffered through life, who have gone through many different experiences, who in those significant years between 20 and 40 have not lost their talent, but strengthened it. Those artists know what to do. They know their way and follow it without any diversions.“ “It was different when we were young. It was sufficient to have a sudden flash of thought to be known forever. This was the great danger to which, to be honest – we easily succumbed.“
“What was this flash? Mostly sensations received from other paintings and then remodelled to conceptions which look like our own creations. The young artists lived from secondhand inspirations.“
“In the long run, an existence of that kind was impossible. Such life is cheap – Art cannot be made; it grows within us.”
“My generation made all the effort not to produce pictures for museums. I do not believe that any other generation had that ambition. It’s something faulty resulted from this attitude. Those whose endeavour it is not to produce for the museums will find their paintings there.”