André Derain
French painter and sculptor



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André Derain
French painter and sculptor
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Date of Birth

June 10, 1880

Place of Birth

Chatou, France

Date of Death

September 08, 1954

Place of Death

Garches, France

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Andre Derain eventually abandoned the artistic styles for which he is now best remembered.

This artist got his name through a guy named Henri Matisse. Together, along with a posse of other French artists, they became some of the first modern painters to break away from the intensely realistic art styles that had dominated the medium since the Renaissance. 'Fauvism' was an avant-garde style defined by the use of vivid, unnaturalistic colors, and personal expression of the artist as opposed to representational realism.

This made Derain the avant-garde of the avant-garde, literally as that particular term was actually created to articulate what it was that artists like Derain were doing. Moreover, this wasn’t the only extreme art movement he was part of. Derain is also credited with contributions to Cubism. This passion wasn’t just for show either, there are records from surviving personal notes that the man was driven to go beyond in terms of artistic creation. So not only was Derain ahead of the curve, but he was ahead of the curve in all the ways one could be ahead of the curve.

Howover, in 1908 Derain broke from both of these movements, making the breakup final in 1910 by destroying his unpublished work. From there he shifted to landscape paintings, done in a much more conservative style. He would ultimately find much better financial success with these paintings, and in 1916 he would have his first solo exhibition in Paris. But through the eyes of history, very little of his work during this time period mattered in the lasting way that his innovations in Fauvism and Cubism did. As a result we end up with two rather dramatic ways to look at his life, he was either a decent artist who gradually worked his way up to financial success, or he was a spectacular artist who abandoned the movements he helped started.



  1. Warren, Rosanna. "A Metaphysic of Painting: The Notes of Andre Derain." The Georgia Review 32, no. 1 (1978): 94-120. Accessed February 11, 2020.
  2. Web Contributor “André Derain” The Guggenheim viewed on 02/11/2020
  3. Web Contributor “AVANT-GARDE” Tate viewed on 02/11/2020
  4. Web Contributor “André Derain” Musee Orangerie viewed on 02/11/2020

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Here is what Wikipedia says about André Derain

André Derain (/dəˈræ̃/, French: [ɑ̃dʁe dəʁɛ̃]; 10 June 1880 – 8 September 1954) was a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse.


Early years

Derain was born in 1880 in Chatou, Yvelines, Île-de-France, just outside Paris. In 1895 he began to study on his own, contrary to claims that meeting Vlaminck or Matisse began his efforts to paint, and occasionally went to the countryside with an old friend of Cézanne's, Father Jacomin along with his two sons. In 1898, while studying to be an engineer at the Académie Camillo, he attended painting classes under Eugène Carrière, and there met Matisse. In 1900, he met and shared a studio with Maurice de Vlaminck and together they began to paint scenes in the neighbourhood, but this was interrupted by military service at Commercy from September 1901 to 1904. Following his release from service, Matisse persuaded Derain's parents to allow him to abandon his engineering career and devote himself solely to painting; subsequently Derain attended the Académie Julian.


Derain and Matisse worked together through the summer of 1905 in the Mediterranean village of Collioure and later that year displayed their highly innovative paintings at the Salon d'Automne. The vivid, unnatural colors led the critic Louis Vauxcelles to derisively dub their works as les Fauves, or "the wild beasts", marking the start of the Fauvist movement. In March 1906, the noted art dealer Ambroise Vollard sent Derain to London to produce a series of paintings with the city as subject. In 30 paintings (29 of which are still extant), Derain presented a portrait of London that was radically different from anything done by previous painters of the city such as Whistler or Monet. With bold colors and compositions, Derain painted multiple pictures of the Thames and Tower Bridge. These London paintings remain among his most popular work. Art critic T. G Rosenthal: "Not since Monet has anyone made London seem so fresh and yet remain quintessentially English. Some of his views of the Thames use the Pointillist technique of multiple dots, although by this time, because the dots have become much larger, it is rather more simply the separation of colours called Divisionism and it is peculiarly effective in conveying the fragmentation of colour in moving water in sunlight."

In 1907 art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler purchased Derain's entire studio, granting Derain financial stability. He experimented with stone sculpture and moved to Montmartre to be near his friend Pablo Picasso and other noted artists. Fernande Olivier, Picasso's mistress at the time, described Derain as:

Slim, elegant, with a lively colour and enamelled black hair. With an English chic, somewhat striking. Fancy waistcoats, ties in crude colours, red and green. Always a pipe in his mouth, phlegmatic, mocking, cold, an arguer.

At Montmartre, Derain began to shift from the brilliant Fauvist palette to more muted tones, showing the influence of Cubism and Paul Cézanne. (According to Gertrude Stein, Derain may have been influenced by African sculpture before the Picasso.) Derain supplied woodcuts in primitivist style for an edition of Guillaume Apollinaire's first book of prose, L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909). He displayed works at the Neue Künstlervereinigung in Munich in 1910, in 1912 at the secessionist Der Blaue Reiter and in 1913 at the seminal Armory Show in New York. He also illustrated a collection of poems by Max Jacob in 1912.

Towards a new classicism

At about this time Derain's work began overtly reflecting his study of the Old Masters. The role of color was reduced and forms became austere; the years 1911–1914 are sometimes referred to as his gothic period. In 1914 he was mobilized for military service in World War I and until his release in 1919 he would have little time for painting, although in 1916 he provided a set of illustrations for André Breton's first book, Mont de Piete.

After the war, Derain won new acclaim as a leader of the renewed classicism then ascendant. With the wildness of his Fauve years far behind, he was admired as an upholder of tradition. In 1919 he designed the ballet La Boutique fantasque for Diaghilev, leader of the Ballets Russes. A major success, it would lead to his creating many ballet designs.

The 1920s marked the height of his success, as he was awarded the Carnegie Prize in 1928 for his Still-life with Dead Game and began to exhibit extensively abroad—in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, New York City and Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, Derain lived primarily in Paris and was much courted by the Germans because he represented the prestige of French culture. Derain accepted an invitation to make an official visit to Germany in 1941, and traveled with other French artists to Berlin to attend a Nazi exhibition of an officially endorsed artist, Arno Breker. Derain's presence in Germany was used effectively by Nazi propaganda, and after the Liberation he was branded a collaborator and ostracized by many former supporters.

A year before his death, he contracted an eye infection from which he never fully recovered. He died in Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France in 1954 when he was struck by a moving vehicle.

Derain's London paintings were the subject of a major exhibition at the Courtauld Institute from 27 October 2005 to 22 January 2006.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about André Derain.