Origin of Modern Art (I)
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Three figures sitting on the grass, 1906, André Derain, (Paris, Museum of Modern Art)
One of the first Modern Art movements was 'Fauvism', a French expression from the early twentieth century that means 'wild beasts' in Spanish. This name was given by the French critic Louis Vauxcelles to the work of several painters of the time, such as Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, Albert Marquet, Charles Camoin, Henri-Charles Manguin, Othon Friesz, Jan Puy, Louis Valtat, Georges Rouault, Raoul Dufy, Georges Braque and Kees van Dongen.
These painters shocked the 1905 Salon de l’Automne in Paris with the savage expressive violence of their work.
'Fauvism' developed in the period between 1894 and 1897, when Manguin, Matisse, Camoin and Marquet were in Gustave Moreau's theater at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. Their watercolors feature freely arranged spots of color and the arabesques line in their sketches that were the first contribution to the pictorial education of the 'Fauves'.
Then, between 1904 and 1905 Henri Matisse is featured in the Musée d'Orsay, where he pays homage to the work of Signac, but uses more intense and shining colors. There are six naked women and a dressed man located on a beach in the year just at the turn of the century.
1906 sees the appearance of Henri-Charles Manguin who sought to distance himself from the formulas of Intimism and tried to create a painting with pure colors. In 'Fauvism' a new form of expression develops based on the anatomy of the painting.
The analogy with visible reality is no longer the mirror, and nature is conceived as a repertoire of signs that must be referred to in order to be able to transcribe them freely. Gaugin had a great influence with his two exhibitions in Paris in 1904 and 1906. In his work, small brushstrokes with pure colors are replaced with large colored surfaces that are crossed by very mobile sinuous outlines.
Enthusiasm also emerged for the sculpture of black Africa and Oceania based on the idea that primitive art achieves the synthesis of perception and expression sought by Fauvist painters.
In 1906, when Fauvism is at its peak, it comes to an end with Matisse and Braque on the one hand, while the Russians Kandinsky and Jawlensky turn to other forms of expression. In addition there was the success of Cubism and the revival of the Cezanne models.