5 reasons to see the André Derain exhibit at the Centre Pompidou

5 reasons to see the André Derain exhibit at the Centre Pompidou

Through 29 January, the works of the trailblazing Fauvist artist André Derain will be displayed at Paris’ Centre Pompidou.

André Derain 1904 – 1914. The Radical Decade

From 4 October 2017 to 29 January 2018, the Centre Pompidou in Paris will showcase a retrospective dedicated to the pre-war work of André Derain, a decade that was decisive for twentieth-century contemporary art and avant-garde. Here are five good reasons to go.

1. Discover or rediscover André Derain and his artistic journey

Derain’s journey was marked by key encounters with individuals who defined his way of imagining, creating, painting and being an artist: first Matisse, then Vlaminck and finally Picasso and Cézanne…icons who took part in the modern art revolution. Derain’s art embraces the creative depth exemplified by these exemplary twentieth-century artists. The exhibition explores André Derain’s powerful pre-war work and, at the same time, lets visitors immerse themselves in the early twentieth-century avant-garde movements in which Derain actively participated and contributed. Discover or rediscover the artist’s radical decade, from Fauvism to Cubism, which he discovered through Picasso, the founder and poster child for this famous artistic movement.

2. Become an expert on Fauvism

Derain’s genius was born at the crossroads of his artistic encounters, and his career took off when he was very young. Working alongside Matisse, Derain found the best way to express himself and let his emotions speak for themselves. Fauvist painting stems from realistic representations transformed through the unleashing of vivid and expressive colors that are screaming and roaring. By favoring the use of colors over the subject matter and the natural representation of the subject, the artist’s emotions dominated his work and, as a result, Fauvism was born. The Fauvist movement explores the artist’s emotions and sensations. The bright colors, similar to a blazing fire after a dynamite explosion, characterize the paintings, and Derain does not deviate from this distinction. After the exhibition, you should be able to identify a Fauvist painting in a snap of fingers.

3. Take a trip to Collioure

Derain’s early career was marked by his travels. His 1905 depictions of Collioure landscapes bathed in Mediterranean light led Derain and Matisse to give birth to the Fauvist movement. During this decisive stay, the two artists worked side by side, releasing colors to let a bright light shine through their canvases. They first exhibited their incandescent paintings at the Salon d’automne of 1905, held at the Grand Palais.  Vlaminck and other artists with whom they regularly exchanged views without ever forming an artistic movement were also present, and their works were considered scandalous. Art critic, Louis Vauxcelles described a classical bust on display as Donatello parmi les fauves. The name was soon changed to la cage aux fauves and the artists became known as the Fauvists.

The exhibition at the Centre Pompidou highlights 30 Collioure’s landscapes, a testament to Fauvism that you can contemplate without moderation.

4. Be transported from London to Africa

In 1906, Derain’s art dealer Ambroise Vollard sent him in the footsteps of Monet to London, ordering a series of city landscapes that included the banks of the Thames. Of the 50 commissioned canvases, Derain completed only 30. However, he discovered the British Museum and the National Gallery and created art inspired by the Maori artifacts and African sculptures that fascinated him. Some of these works are shown at the Centre Pompidou exhibition. He was also intrigued by the beauty of exotic women in Gauguin’s works, and this influence can be seen in La danse of 1903. He also devoted himself to sculpture and primitive art, and these rare sculptures and other unpublished archives, sketches, letters, watercolors, engravings, and photographs are on display at the exhibition. Don’t miss the photography-dedicated room, which sheds light on how Derain used the medium. He painted Le Bal à Suresnes from a photograph.

5. A style that heralds cubism

Essentially modern and most certainly innovative, Derain, who has always turned a little bit turned towards tradition, is an artist full of contradictions, or, rather, in a state of perpetual evolution, elaboration and reflection. After London, Derain moved to Paris, alongside Picasso. He attended the Salon d’automne in 1907 where he admired Cézanne’s Grandes Baigneuses, and inspiration was not long in coming. After the primitive influences inspired by Gauguin, Derain began a dialogue with Cézanne and painted the Baigneuses in 1907. As an answer to Derain’s “bathers”, the same year Picasso painted his famous Demoiselles d’ Avignon.

Cover Photo credit: wallyg via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND


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