Fauvism: the hatred of conformism

Fauvism: the hatred of conformism

  • Kitchen interior.

    VLAMINCK of Mauritius (1876 - 1958)

  • The old tree.

    DERAIN André (1880 - 1954)

© ADAGP, Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Philippe Migeat

© ADAGP, Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Philippe Migeat

Publication date: December 2007

Historical context

The spirit of revolt of the Derain-Vlaminck tandem

The term "fauvism" appeared in 1905, as part of the Salon d'Automne. The art critic Louis Vauxcelles, who would later baptize the "cubists", was the first to use the word "fauve" to designate the room in which Derain, Vlaminck or Matisse exhibited. The title of the first chapter of Louis Vauxcelles's work, devoted to Fauvism, evokes the spirit of revolt in which the movement is rooted: "Fauvism: a school? No, a troop of rioters recruited by two twenty-year-old anarchists in Chatou ". Together, the two artists will never stop expressing, through their painting, "their contempt for narrow conceptions of bourgeois morality" which exasperates them so much. They contrast instinct and energy against the idea of ​​order, notions that form the basic principles of their creation.

Image Analysis

Change the world

Kitchen interior and The old tree are two works painted in the year 1904-1905. They give an idea of ​​the practice of the Vlaminck-Derain tandem in Chatou, in this phase qualified by Vauxcelles as pre-fauvism. The tree with the red, green and gray trunk, unusual colors for a landscape, the simplified character of the expression, the visible touch, thick, short, fast and nervous, the interest in sinuous shapes, testify to the approach by Derain. The artist lets himself be guided by his instinct and submits the landscape to its inner state, to its emotional perception. The space ofInterior is distorted, the absence of contours induces a sudden encounter of warm (red) and cold (blue) colors. Vlaminck plays here on strong contrasts which oppose the dark forms standing out against light and colored backgrounds. The restless touch, the strident character of the colors and the intensity of the contrasts, give an intense life to a subject who is usually calm, serene and intimate. The table guides the viewer's gaze to a blind window, from which a faded red radiates. Wavy and oblique verticals make the composition unstable and moving. In both paintings, the color is freed from the drawing and is used in an apparently arbitrary manner. Vlaminck and Derain challenge reality and offer their vision, their personal and instinctual expression of the world. They free themselves from the academic formulas of representation.


"Donatello among the wild animals"

At the Salon d'Automne, the paintings of these artists, by their bright colors and their technique, seem to attack a small classical sculpture. Vauxcelles thus speaks of “Donatello among the wild animals”. As Christian Lassalle explains (in L. Vauxcelles, Fauvism, Paris, Olbia, 1999), the reference to Donatello is then common to evoke a classical sculpture. In this case, it is a statue of Mark. Since the beginning of the XIXe, the image of the wild animal constitutes a banal metaphor to evoke a new human force, violent, individual, in the face of an urban, conservative or even backward-looking majority, in a society that tries to repress it. In 1905, the general public felt attacked by this painting. He denigrates her and tries to tame and make disappear this brute force, animal. President Loubet will also refuse to inaugurate the Salon. If the term does refer to the spirit of revolt that animates certain artists, and in the first place Vlaminck and Derain, the fact remains that the painters will not produce any group theory. The movement, as such, remains difficult to grasp in its contours. It does not designate a style, strictly speaking, or an aesthetic program. Matisse thus always denied any conceptual or theoretical value of the word. "Fauvism" therefore designates above all an energy, an insurrectionary attitude which is expressed in particular by the liberation of color.

  • fauvism
  • Loubet (Emile)


Renata NEGRI, S. VENTURI,Van Dongen and the Fauves, Paris, CELI, 1990.

Louis VAUXCELLES,Fauvism, Paris, Olbia editions, 1999

Exhibition catalog, Fauvism or the ordeal by fire, Paris, Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, from October 29, 1999 to February 27, 2000.

To cite this article

Cécile PICHON-BONIN, "Fauvism: the hatred of conformism"

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