The Fauves. Passion for Color

OCT.22.2016           JAN.29.2017

Fundación MAPFRE Recoletos Exhibition Hall

Maurice de VlaminckRestaurant de la Machine à Bougival, ca. 1905
Musée d’Orsay, donated by Max and Rosy Kaganovitch, 1973
©Maurice de Vlaminck, VEGAP, Madrid, 2016
©RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Home > Art and Culture > Exhibitions > Past exhibitions > Exhibitions in 2016 > The Fauves. Passion for Color



OCT.22.2017        JAN.29.2017


Recoletos Exhibition Hall
Paseo Recoletos 23, 28004 Madrid

From 22 October 2016 until 29 January 2017 you can appreciate the meaning of passion for color. The exhibition, which offers a complete and considered presentation of fauvism, brings together over one hundred paintings as well as numerous drawings, watercolors and a selection of ceramic pieces.

The exhibition has been produced by Fundación MAPFRE and has only been possible thanks to the support of more than eighty lenders who have collaborated with the show. Notable amongst these are the TATE, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen of Düsseldorf, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Statens Museum of Denmark. The generosity of more than thirty private collectors has also been essential, who have lent works that are less well-known to the general public but nevertheless of extraordinary quality.

Fauvism is synonymous with freedom, strength and transgression. In the world of painting it was the standard bearer of the revolution of color, the absence of perspective and a break with tradition. The overwhelming intensity and vitality of a group of young artists who trained in different studios changed the course of art during the first decade of the 20th century.

Henri Matisse was its leading representative accompanied by other artists with whom he shared a new vision of painting along with a constant desire to learn and experiment. Together with André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck he led the group which also included Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, Charles Camoin, Jean Puy, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz, Georges Braque, Georges Rouault and Kees van Dongen.

These staunch proponents of provocative color and of executing work from a personal perspective were particularly committed to developing a number of themes such as portraits of the group’s members, luminous landscapes, the ambience of the French Mediterranean, intimate spaces and the atmosphere of sordid nightlife.

In this brief yet passionate artistic period, the fauves succumbed to the post-impressionist influences of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin and to the neo-impressionism of Signac, to the extent that their work as a whole was seen a being a unique revelation for cubism and expressionism, two of the most important avant-garde movements at the beginning of the 20th century.

Color. The fauves maxim was to defend the independence of color. The supremacy and arbitrary nature of color, along with bold brush strokes and freedom of execution are the main features in the works of these artists.

Intensity: It was a controversial, lavish and exuberant movement led by Henri Matisse, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. It lasted for a very short time, about four years, and produced work bursting with the vigor of youth, the joy of comradeship and the echo of continuous experimentation.

Vanguardism: the official launch of fauvism took place in 1905 at the Salon d’Automne exhibition in Paris, an event at which an art critic christened them “the wild beasts” –fauves taken aback by the amalgam of colors and the originality of the compositions. This combination of artistic principles arose from the influence of art movements in the latter part of the 19th century, that the fauves were able to assimilate and develop into the first avant-garde movements of the 20th century.

Acrobats of light. These were the last artists who painted “en plein air“, which means outdoors. Matisse was enraptured by the luminosity of Signac’s work in Saint-Tropez and shared a summer with Derain in Colliure, where they intensified their palette tones. Other members of the group -Camoin, Manguin and Marquet- were also seduced by the Mediterranean light, as reflected in their vibrant natural landscapes, seascapes and meticulous nudes. A little later, Braque, Dufy and Friesz turned their attention to fishing villages and the joyfulness of little towns decorated for local festivals.

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