Origin of Modern Art (II)

Origin of Modern Art (II)

Written by Alfonso Elizondo


Between 1905 and 1906 Henry Matisse started a very bold Modern Art with the use of arabesque, color and drawing of very modern figures. Unlike the Impressionists, Matisse emphasized expression and color dynamics, refraining from nuancing light and shadow within those colors.

Twenty-year-old Dutch painter, Kees von Dongen, settled in Paris to work with various satirical magazines. He met Picasso and exhibited his work with the Fauves in the 1905 Salon de l’Automne. This helped him to consolidate his sensual painting. His favorite subjects were female nudes in the urban setting of circuses and cabarets. Although he is not an advocate of the Belle Epoque, he establishes himself as a portraitist of the elegant and mundane Parisian society and expresses the decadence that lies beneath power and money.

Portrait of a woman, Fernande Olivier, 1905, Kees van Dongen, (Private collection)

Primavera, 1908, Kees van Dongen

Spring, 1908, Kees van Dongen, (St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum)

La gitana, 1910, Kees van Dongen

The gypsy, 1910, Kees van Dongen, (Saint-Tropez, Museum of l’Annonciade)

Maurice de Vlaminick devoted himself to painting as a result of the strong impression made on him by the Van Gogh paintings. He produced aggressive landscape paintings, still lifes and portraits in which he uses pure colors applied directly from the tube to the canvas. He was the most radical representative of the Fauvist group and after seeing the work of Cezanne in 1907 he went on a new search. He worked in Cubism with Picasso in Montmartre and after the World War I he retired to paint landscapes and still lifes with more muted colors and more dramatic tones. He was the wildest of the Fauves since his pictorial instinct always exceeded his intellect.

Henry Matisse is considered the precursor of Fauvism. From 1899 until 1903 his colors herald his Fauvist phase inspired by Cezanne’s painting. But in 1904 Matisse goes beyond the teachings of Signac and the globs of paint disappear while his colors become brighter.

When he exhibited alongside Derain in the 1905 Salon de l”Automne, the green and mauve tones of the faces were shocking. The following year Matisse discovers Gauguin and moves towards simplifying figures and applies color on a smooth, monochrome background. Matisse said that the dominant use of color should be to convey expression as best as possible. “There is no serious consideration beforehand and my choice of colors is not based on any scientific theory, but on observation of the feeling and experience of my sensitivity.”