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André Derain (1880-1954)


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André Derain was a French painter who was a leader in several avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century. Born in Chatou, near Paris, he abandoned his early engineering studies to pursue an artistic career. In 1905, he became a member of the fauvist ("wild beast") group, along with Maurice de Vlaminck and Henri Matisse. The group was so named because of the savage nature of the bold and unrealistic color used by the artists (see Fauvism). Most of Derain's works of this period were landscapes and cityscapes, such as London Bridge (1906, Museum of Modern Art, New York City). They show the typical fauvist characteristics of raw color (often squeezed onto the canvas directly from the tube), choppy brushstrokes, frenzied composition, and lack of concern for perspective or the realities of a scene.

After 1908, Derain began to experiment with other styles. The influence of Paul CÚzanne led him to prefer quieter colors and more controlled compositions. His great Bathers (1908, location unknown) represented an attempt to combine the innovations of previous painters, such as Claude Monet and CÚzanne, in a single all-encompassing synthesis. In 1910, Derain produced highly geometric, cubist-influenced works such as The Old Bridge at Cagnes (National Gallery, Washington, D.C.). His late work, after 1912, showed the influence of many styles-including classical French art and African sculpture-and tended to become increasingly traditional and derivative, characterized by muted color and fussily elaborated technique. Derain also designed woodcut book illustrations and, in 1919, he designed set decorations for Sergey Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.




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