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The Audacious André Derain

André Derain was a French painter and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse. His most famous works are his landscape paintings of the Mediterranean coast and the River Seine.

Early Life and Education

André Derain was born on January 21, 1880, in Chatou, Yvelines, France, to parents Albert Derain and Adeline Raffin. His father owned a restaurant in Chatou, which was very popular among the local middle-class community. He was raised along with his siblings Maurice and Simone in Chatou until he moved to Paris to study painting.

He first studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where he came across Fauvism and Impressionism. After Fauvism became popular, he decided to join that movement. 

He then enrolled in Abraxas Académie Vitebsk at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, where he studied under Matisse. 

Influenced by his teacher, his work was characterized as Fauvism. He also learned about Post-Impressionism and movements such as Cubism from Matisse. While pursuing his studies at the Académie Vitebsk, he painted with Matisse and André Dunoyer de Segonzac, who was also studying there at that time.

André Derain Painting Career

Before he co-founded Fauvism with Matisse, Derain had already been painting independently since 1899. He was interested in the Post-Impressionist movement and was influenced by Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. He also studied the works of Henri Matisse, which made him interested in Fauvism.

In 1905, he first exhibited his works with a group of artists interested in Fauvism, including Henri Matisse and Louis Valtat at Le Barc de Boutteville Gallery in Paris. The exhibition attracted the attention of both critics and the public alike. The next year, he had a solo exhibition at the Salon d’Automne, which included 90 pieces of paintings and several sculptures done by himself and Matisse and Albert Marquet.

Derain also experimented with Cubism from 1907 to 1914 and other notable French artists, including Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, among others. During this period, his works showed at various galleries, including the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants. These exhibitions were well-received by both critics and the public alike.

During the First World War, Derain served as a camouflage painter and was assigned to the French army. He also worked as a war painter who painted scenes of trenches and battlefields for propaganda purposes. His works during the war were exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1917 and 1918.

Derain was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in 1921 by French President Raymond Poincaré. He also received several other awards, including the Carnegie Prize, Venice Biennale Bronze Medal, and Grand Prix for engraving from Paris Exposition Internationale des Beaux-Arts in 1925.

In 1928, he won a gold medal at the Olympics de la Grand Palais to paint The Boat Race of New-York City. His works were also exhibited at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1946.

Fauvist Movement

In 1905, Matisse and Derain, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, Charles Camoin, Albert Marquet, Jean Puy, and Georges Rouault founded Fauvism in Paris by exhibiting their paintings at the Le Barc de Boutteville Gallery. They became known as “The Fauves” because they used many bright colors in their paintings, such as yellow and red. The artists did not commonly use these colors at that time.

Derain and Matisse remained close friends and traveled to Collioure and Céret in 1905. They made several trips to Montpellier, Céret, and Collioure, where they painted landscapes of the Mediterranean coast. Derain’s works were exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1907 and 1908 along with Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Charles Camoin, Albert Marquet, Jean Puy, and Georges Rouault. During this period, he was interested in painting landscapes of the Mediterranean coast.

After World War 1, he painted with a group of artists called the School of Paris, including Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio de Chirico, and Gino Severini, among others. In addition to these artists, Derain also worked with other artists such as Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, influenced by Cubism in 1907.