This work was made during a holiday at the fishing port of Collioure in the south of France in 1905, when Matisse and Derain painted portraits of each other. Under Matisse’s influence, Derain had begun to use strong, non-naturalistic colours, applied in small separate brushstrokes, to convey the sensations of light and shade. Their radical use of colour led critics described them and their associates as ‘Fauves’ or wild beasts, and Fauvism became an important parallel to the rise of Expressionism in Germany.
Characteristics of Fauvism
The paintings of the Fauves were characterized by seemingly wild brush work and strident colors, while their subject matter had a high degree of simplification and abstraction. Fauvism can be classified as an extreme development of Vincent van Gogh ‘sPost-Impressionism fused with the pointillism of Seurat and other Neo-Impressionist painters, in particular Paul Signac. Other key influences were Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, whose employment of areas of saturated color—notably in paintings from Tahiti—strongly influenced Derain’s work at Collioure in 1905.In 1888 Gauguin had said to Paul Sérusier: “How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine these red leaves? Put in vermilion.” Fauvism has been compared to Expressionism, both in its use of pure color and unconstrained brushwork.Some of the Fauves were among the first avant-garde artists to collect and study African and Oceanic art, alongside other forms of non-Western and folk art, leading several Fauves toward the development of Cubism.