Fauvism

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Kees van Dongen in his studio circa 1910

Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for "the wild beasts"), a loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. While Fauvism as a style began around 1900 and continued beyond 1910, the movement as such lasted only a few years, 1904–1908, and had three exhibitions. The leaders of the movement were Henri Matisse and w:André Derain.

Quotes on Fauvism[edit]

Sorted chronologically, by date of the quote

1903 - 1905[edit]

  • Comment voyez-vous cet arbre? Il est bien vert? Mettez donc du vert, le plus beau vert de votre palette; — et cette ombre, plutôt bleue? Ne craignez pas la peindre aussi bleue que possible.
  • How do you see this tree? Is it really green? Use green, then, the most beautiful green on your palette. And that shadow, rather blue? Don't be afraid to paint it as blue as possible.
    • Paul Gauguin (1888), in conversation with Paul Sérusier; as quoted by Maurice Denis, 'L'influence de Paul Gauguin,' in 'Occident' (October 1903) and published in Du symbolisme au classicisme. Théories (1912), ed. Olivier Revault d'Allonnes (Paris, 1964), p. 51.
  • This young painter [ Henri Matisse ]... ...assumes, whether or not he wishes to, the position of head of the school. [which Vauxcelles called for the first time in history 'Fauvism']
    • Louis Vauxcelles, in his review of the Salon des Independants, March, 1905, for the Parish periodical 'Gil Blas'; as quoted in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 – - digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 27-28
    • For the first time, the art-critics wrote articles on the Fauve exhibition Salon des Independants in 1905. Instead of the usual brief reviews or passing comments Louis Vauxcelles, the art-critic for 'Gil Blas', was well aware of the importance of the painting 'Luxe, Calme, et Volupte' [painted in 1904 by Matisse]; In his review he criticized Matisse's incursion into Pointillism, while nevertheless recognizing his talent.
  • ...the audacities and extravagances... ...of some passionate young artists... ...who honor Paul Cézanne as one of their masters, or rather one of their initiators, on a par with Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet... ...Matisse's friends Manguin, Camoin, ... Puy, impressed by his vigor, sometimes give a brutal turn to their senior's direct energy.
    • Louis Vauxcelles, in his review of the Salon des Independants, March, 1905, for the Parish paper 'Gil Blas'; as quoted in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 – - digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 28
    • The Fauve artists exhibiting at the Salon des Independants in March 1905, were Manguin, Camoin, Puy, Dufy, Albert Marquet, Van Dongen, Derain, and Vlaminck. Louis Vauxcelles [the critic for 'Gil Bias') was so much aware of these artists' new experiments, that some time before the opening of the salon he wrote this phrase in his review.
  • The 21st Salon des Independants is unanimously a vast hommage to Cézanne. All the school of Gustave Moreau, in total[?] denies, to say the least, its master, to pass to Cezanne. . .Marquet. .. , and Matisse, Lempereur, and Metzinger.. ..and Dufy, and Caraoin [show this influence].... ...A young man, w:Jean Puy, whose researches (or experiments) I already noticed and commented on last year, offers us new and more solid motifs of hope, of confidence. One senses here a sincere effort, a taste for solidity, the desire for self-expression. The artist explains himself in the 'Head of an Old Woman', and in the 'Woman in Purple'. [Kees] Van Dongen demands dizzy spins [of his dancers] and a variety of colours, ultra-modern pirouettes, complete strangers to the divine art of the dance, careless, but producing an incontestable beauty. His reckless compositions contain an extraordinary spontaneity.
    • Charles Morice, in his review of the Salon des Independants, March, 1905, for the Parish paper 'Mercure de France'; as quoted in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 – - digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 29
    • Charles Morice, the critic for the 'Mercure de France' also pointed out the Fauves' indebtedness to Cézanne in his review.
  • We come to the most stupefying gallery in a Salon still teeming with shocks. Here any description, any account, any criticism, become equally impossible - since, apart from the materials employed, that which is shown to us bears no resemblance to painting; variations of color without form; blue, red, yellow, green; splotches of raw color juxtaposed any which way; the barbaric and naive games of a child playing with the paint box someone gave him for a Christmas present,
    • Marcel Nicolle, his notorious comment on the Salon d'Automne in the 'Journal de Rouen' (20 Nov, 1905); as quoted in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 – - digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 33
  • Donatello chez les fauves.
  • Donatello among the Fauves.
    • Louis Vauxcelles (1905), in his comment of the Fauve's show Le Salon d'Automne, Louis Vauxcelles, 'w:Gil Blas, 17 October 1905. Screen 5. and 6. Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ISSN 1149-9397
    • [his quote illustrated the contrasting Fauvist 'orgy of tones', combined with a Renaissance-style sculpture of the sculptor Albert Marque that shared the same room on the Le Salon d'Automne]
  • When one enters the gallery devoted to their work [of the Fauve artists], at the sight of those landscapes, these figure studies, these simple designs, all of them violent in colour, one prepares to examine their intentions, to learn their theories; and one feels completely in the realm of abstraction... ...here one finds, above all in the work of Matisse... ...the act of pure painting... .Everything which comes from our instinct and from nature, finally all the factors of representation and of feeling are excluded from the work of art...
    • Maurice Denis, in his review 'De Gauguin, de Whistler, et de l’èxces des théories' in L'Érmitage’ 15 Nov, 1905; as quoted in Les Fauves: A Sourcebook by Russell T. Clement, p. 14 'Chronology' /also in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 – - digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 32
    • Denis criticizes here the Fauvist paintings as a result of only theory, and not coming from nature, emotions and from subjectivity any more.
  • All sorts of works are to be seen at the Salon [d'Automne] this year [1905], some ingenious works, some lost in savage spices [the 'Fauvist' paintings], a strange tableau of mixed good and bad offerings... ..There is this group of curious colorists... ...who have great promise, but who are lost in taking for their standard... ...improvisation and incoherence, in refusing to condescend to... ...order, design, application... ...We had the dogma of the w:École des Beaux Arts,... ...they [The Fauves] have replaced it with that of anarchic.

Francois Monod, his art-review 'Le Salon d'Automne', in 'L'Art et Decoration', XVIII (1905+)

  • Lorsque j’entendais crier devant Matisse: "c’est de la folie!" j’avais envie de répliquer: "mais non, Monsieur, tout au contraire. C’est un produit de théories." Tout s’y peut déduire, expliquer; l’intuition n’y a que faire. Sans doute quand M. Matisse peint le front de cette femme couleur pomme et ce tronc d’arbre rouge franc, il peut nous dire: "c’est parce que..." Oui, raisonnable, cette peinture, et raisonneuse même.
  • I stayed a long time in this room [The room with paintings of Matisse, at the Salon d'Autumne, 1905)]. I heard the people who were walking by, and I heard them cry out in front of the paintings by Matisse. "It is madness!" I had the pleasure of replying: "But no, sir, on the contrary. It is the product of theories.
    • André Gide, in his review 'Promenade au Salon D’Automne' in 'Gaz. Beaux Arts' (December 1905); as quoted in, French version: Henri Matisse: A Guide to Research, Catherine C. Bock Weiss p. 1227 / English version: in Albert Marquet and the Fauve movement; 1898-1908, Norris Judd, Thesis (A.B.), published by Sweet Briar College, May, 1976 –- digitized by Internet Archive, 2010, p. 34
  • Mets to jupe en cretonne Et ton bonnet, mignonne! Nous allons fire un brin De l'art contemporain Et du Salon d'Automne ('Put on your cotton skirt And your bonnet, my pet! We’re going to have a good laugh At modern art and the Salon d'Automne.'
    • Guillaume Apollinaire (1905), his review of the Salon d'Automne, with a satirical song; as quoted in Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century, eds. Charles Harrison, Francis Frascina, Gill Perry, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 46-61

1906 - 1915[edit]

  • It is obvious that Matisse and some of his disciples, like Friesz [ w:Othon Friesz ], are endowed with a remarkable sensibility... ...they restore to us the sunlight... ...Their aesthetic permits them to attempt to blind us; they do not recoil from using the extremes of colour... ...also the extreme simplicity of their compositions, indicates that nothing remains of the theories of w:Neo-Impressionism.
    • Maurice Denis, in his art-review of the Salon d'Automne exhibition in 1906 'Chronique de Peinture', in 'L'Ermitage', p. 34-35 (15 December 13, 1906); translation: Norris Judd
  • A nude woman, ugly, spread out on opaque blue grass under some palm trees. [over thirty years later, Henri Matisse defended his early painting of 1907 as follows: 'If I met such a woman in the street, I should run away in terror. Above all I do not create a woman, I make a picture.']
    • Louis Vauxcelles 1907; as quoted in Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century, eds. Charles Harrison, Francis Frascina, Gill Perry, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 46-61
    • critical comment on Matisse's painting 'w:Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra', he made in 1907, ('Nu bleu, Souvenir de Biskra'), when it appeared in the Salon des Indépendants in 1907

'Notes d'un Peintre' 1908[edit]

'Notes d'un Peintre' ('Notes of a Painter'), Henri Matisse - Paris, 1908; as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, London, 1972
  • What I am after, above all, is expression. Sometimes it has been conceded that I have a certain technical ability but that, my ambition being limited, I am unable to proceed beyond a purely visual satisfaction such as can be procured from the mere sight of a picture. But the purpose of a painter must not be conceived as separate from his pictorial means, and these pictorial means must be the more complete (I do not mean complicated) the deeper is his thought. I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it.
    • p. 409
  • I try to condense the meaning of this body [of a woman] by drawing its essential lines. The charm will then become less apparent at first glance, but in the long run it will begin emanate from the new image. This image at the same time will be enriched by a wider meaning, a more comprehensively human one, while the charm, being less apparent, will not be its only characteristic. It will be merely one element in the general conception of the figure.
    • p. 411
  • A work of art must carry in itself its complete significance and impose it upon the beholder even before he can identify the subject-matter. When I see the w:Giotto frescoes at Padua I do not trouble to recognize which scene of the life of Christ I have before me, but I perceive instantly the sentiment which radiates from it and which is instinct in the composition in every line and color.
    • p. 413

after 1915[edit]

  • The critic for the Parisian daily paper 'Gil Bias', Louis Vauxcelles looked [in October 1905] at the paintings and then at the "classical" Torso of a Child by the sculptor Albert Marque, which was placed in the center of the room. He slyly observed, "It is Donatello among the wild beasts (Fauves)"
  • Fauve painting is not everything, but it is the foundation of everything.
    • Attributed to Matisse in: Judi Freeman, ‎Los Angeles County Museum of Art, ‎Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), The fauve landscape, 1990, p. 7

External links[edit]

  • Encyclopedic article on Fauvism at Wikipedia
  • Media related to Fauvism at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of fauvism at Wiktionary
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