Fauvism art is a style rich in color and an initial point of departure for the early Twentieth Century’s modern art style. Derived from French, the name translates to “the wild beasts.” The term was first used in 1905 to describe and criticize paintings by Henri Matisse and André Derain.
As a group, the four Fauves were French painters who became famous for their bright, unblended colors in the early 20th century. Fauvism is a painting style developed by Matisse, Derain, Albert Marquet, and Maurice de Vlaminck that used vivid colors and simplified lines to express emotion. They drew inspiration from modern life and images from popular culture.
Fauvism art sits between the Post-impressionist and Expressionism schools of painting. It is similar to post-impressionism in that it emphasized the use of color and brushstrokes. And it was also like expressionism in that it used distortion and exaggeration to convey strong emotions.
The vivid colors of Fauvism art
Some say that Matisse’s childhood years in Morocco inspired him. The bright colors of the Islamic art movement captured his imagination. More likely, it was his time studying color theory with Brittany Russell. Still, others say that the Fauves’ use of bright colors embraced Japanese prints of the early 19th century.
Nonetheless, Fauvism art is all about using bright colors on the canvas. And while they were contemporaries of Expressionism, another anti-academic art movement, the two movements are quite different.
Fauvism stands out with its pervasive use of bright colors, including yellow, orange, and especially red. Fauvist painters were also known for their use of distorted but simplified forms.
Similar in conception, with a different approach
Expressionist painters like Edvard Munch and Franz Marc drew their inspiration from deep personal emotion and observation of nature.
Instead, a Fauve drew inspiration from nature but used it to create a sense of color harmony that would make a tetrachromat envious.
They also liked bright colors because they were different from what most painters were using at the time. Fauvist painters also wanted to use brushstrokes that were bold and pretty loose. Moreover, they would often use bold outlines around the subject matter to emphasize the canvas’s flatness and make them stand out from the scene.
Fauvism art influence?
Fauvism’s influence on art exists today. Its use of bold, bright colors and loose, expressive brushstrokes paved the way for the Surrealist movement of the 1920s.
The Fauves were the first group of artists to focus on using color to express the emotion of the subject matter. And the Surrealists, inspired by Sigmund Freud’s ideas about the subconscious, built upon the vivid colors with lucid imagery to express their inner thoughts and feelings.
Fauvism is also the beginning of abstract art. While Matisse and the other Fauves were still painting recognizable subjects, they broke down their topics into basic geometric shapes and used bold colors to create a more emotional response in their scene. These techniques became the basis for future movements like Cubism.