фото Дерена 212x300 André Derain ★

André Derain. 1904

André Derain was born on June 17, 1880, in rue Saint Germain in Chatou, a small town ten kilometers west of Paris. His father was a milkman well respected in the community: in 1884 he was elected to the town council. André was educated at the Saint Croix private school of Le Vesinet and the lycee Chaptal of Paris. He took up painting in 1895 while preparing for graduation exams at the Paris École Polytechnique. Père Jacomin, father of his schoolmates, was the first instructor of the future artist, and his first works were landscapes of the Seines shores.

In 1898 André enrolled at the Academie Camillo, where the Symbolist artist Eugène Carrière taught at that time. He painted mystical figurative pictures and landscapes in sfumato technique and was known for his high professional ethics and a liberal mindset. There Derain met Henri Matisse, who had been brought to the Academie by creative quests and lack of confidence in the chosen route, and also made friends with Albert Marquet and Georges Rouault. Matisse was ten years older than Derain and immediately took notice of the serious young man, who was very gifted and worked scrupulously. No doubt, Matisse, who by that time had his own collection of works by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rodin and Redon, became a big authority for Derain, who was only 21 at the time. It was under the influence of Matisse, who knew everything about galleries, exhibitions and museums, that Derain began to visit Louvre and came into contact with Paris gallery owners and art dealers.

Автопортрет в мастерской André Derain ★

Self-portrait in Studio, 1904

But it was the self-taught artist Maurice de Vlaminck, whom Derain met in 1900, who became a truly close friend. What the two young artists had in common was the fact that both hailed from Chatou and that they divided their lives between Paris and their home town. Together they rented an abandoned restaurant on the Chatou Island, washed by the Seines, in the historical center of their home town to serve as their studio. And there was much in common in their views of art. Together they did landscapes at the town outskirts. Both were especially inspired by the exhibition of Vincent van Gogh held in March 1901 at the Bernheim Jr. Gallery. As Derain said later, they had been intoxicated by color and by the sun which brought color to life. Matisse had reservations about that friendship: according to him, Vlaminck looked a bit wild, was inordinately noisy and provoked attention everywhere.

Derain’s progress as a commencing artist was interrupted by military service. In September 1901 Derain went to Commercy (Meuse, Lorraine) for a tour of duty. During the three years there Derain read a lot, did a series of humorous drawings that Vlaminck tried to publish in the Rire and Sourire magazines, wrote a play for the theater and started work on a novel entitled Trois caresses.

Upon his release from the army in September 1904 Derain returned to Chatou and again rented a studio together with Vlaminck. However, he could no longer afford academic training and had to look for his path on his own. During that period André found support in Henri Matisse, who lived nearby and visited Derain and Vlaminck several times. Matisse was touched by the fact that the young people were as devoted to art as he was. As Derain’s parents did not approve the road chosen by their son, Matisse volunteered to pay a visit to them and persuade them that the career of an artist held out great prospects for André. He went to see them with his wife Amélie to produce the impression of a respectable bourgeois couple. His visit had a favorable effect on Derain’s parents, and they gave tangible financial support to their son.

Just as before serving in the army, Derain again lives between Paris and Chatou. In the autumn of 1904 he attends Paul Cezanne’s exhibition at the Salon d’Automne and that of Paul Signac at the Galerie Druet. Before cold sets in, Derain does landscapes of Chatou and Le Pecq and in winter paints still lifes in his studio. At the Louvre he does drawings of works of the Italian Renaissance and French Classicism, as well as Egyptian sculpture. It was then that Derain met the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who lived in Le Vesinet close to Chatou.

In the spring of 1905 Matisse persuades Derain to show his works to the public and invites him to contribute to the Salon des Independants. Derain exhibits eight works, four of which are sold for 50 francs each. The Russian collector Ivan Morozov buys three of those.

Пейзаж Дождь в Шату André Derain ★

Landscape (Rain in Chatou). Winter, 1904-1905

In July of that same year, at the request of Matisse, Derain comes for joint work to the small fishing town of Collioure on the Mediterranean coast, where his elder comrade rented a studio for summer and lived with his family. Matisse was consumed by doubts about the correctness of the Neo-impressionists path charted by Signac and was bracing himself up to go beyond the limits of Divisionism. Derain, who was not affiliated with any trend, felt he was freer and began to experiment in the style of Post-impressionists. He made chaotic brushstrokes, now in the form of drops, now in the form of lines, creating powerful contrasts and often introducing dissonance into the picture. The result produced by his method, which was immediately taken up by Matisse, was absolutely different from what artists had done earlier. That summer spent by Derain and Matisse together on the Catalan coast was to go down in world art history as the period of the birth of Fauvism (see The Birth of Fauvism).

Upon his return from Collioure Derain felt full of vigor, continued working prolifically and dreamed of putting his works again to public scrutiny. In the autumn of 1905 he attends for the first time the Salon d’Automne, where Matisse, Vlaminck, Marquet, Rouault, Friesz, Van Dongen, Jawlensky and Kandinsky also exhibit their works. This “orgy of pure color” accumulated on the same premises prompted the critic Louis Vauxcelles to use the term “fauvism”. The exhibition attracted a lot of attention and evoked response from both the public and the critics. Some of the far-sighted collectors purchased works from the exhibition, sensing a new opening in the history of art.

From that time on Derain exhibited actively. In late 1905 Berthe Weill suggested that he mount an exhibition at her gallery, and despite the fact that the public in the halls loudly discussed his works and openly laughed at them, the 25-year-old Derain became a full-fledged participant in the contemporary art life of Paris. At the recommendation of Matisse, shortly before the Salon d’Automne closed, the well-known art dealer Ambroise Vollard bought every picture there was in Derain’s studio, a total of 89 paintings and 80 drawings, for 3,300 francs, without even looking into some of the drawers. On a commission from Vollard Derain begins to paint vases and plates made by the potter André Metthey in Asnières.

Лондон. Вестминстерский дворец 2 André Derain ★

London. Westminster Palace 2, 1906

Impressed by Derain’s pictures exhibited at the Salon d’Automne of 1905, Vollard commissions him to make a series of landscapes of the Thames shores. In late 1905 Derain sets out on a brief visit of London and then, in early 1906, goes to work there for six weeks. Vollard’s idea was that Derain should do a series of cityscapes from the Thames shores by analogy with Claude Monet’s series. Derain produced a total of 30 works, of which 29 have survived.

After his return from England Derain again participated in the Salon des Independants. Georges Braque, whom he met at the Salon d’Automne, invited him to exhibit together with the Contemporary Art Group in Le Havre. Derain spent the summer of 1906 in L’Estaque, where he went to work en plein air and where he associated a lot with his new friend, the 24-years-old Picasso. In the spring of 1906 they were introduced to each other by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Derain finally moved to Paris in the autumn of 1906 and rented a studio on Montmartre not far away from the Bateau-Lavoir, where Picasso lived. At that time Bateau-Lavoir was home to Kees van Dongen and the poets Max Jacob and André Salmon, who were highly instrumental in Derain’s success by publishing numerous articles about his works in the press.

Бистро в Эстаке У фонтана André Derain ★

Bistro in L’Estaque (At the Fountain). Summer, 1906

Извилистая дорога в Эстаке André Derain ★

Winding Road in L’Estaque. 1906

Пристань в Эстаке André Derain ★

La Jette a L’Estaque. Summer, 1906

Derain and Picasso became especially close in late summer 1906. Picasso was at that time at the height of his Rose Period, painted saltimbanques and itinerant performers and already began to attract the attention of art critics, dealers and collectors. His works were a success not only with Gertrude Stein, but also with AmbroiseVollard, who purchased the entire series of Rose Period works. At that time Derain tried to depart from finds made at Collioure and invent a new pictorial idiom by producing something more stable and precise in painting. Derain and Picasso talk a lot about the theory of painting, often discussing Cezanne, who had died in the autumn of 1906, and his retrospective organized at the 1907 Salon d’Automne to mark the first anniversary of his death. The 1906 Salon d’Automne staged a retrospective of Paul Gauguin, who had died three years earlier. Gauguin had practically not exhibited for many years, and the public was unfamiliar with his works. That was why the Salon d’Automne exhibits proved a veritable discovery for young artists. Beyond doubt, it was owing to the Gauguin exhibition that the friends took up woodcut printing. Derain initiated the venture by making 25 woodcuts showing dancing women, while Picasso confined himself to one masterfully executed woodcut. Their experiments led to the mastering of the old technique of taille direct to make carved wood sculpture, and also to do stone carving. As a result, Derain made several bas-reliefs, which were purchased by Ambroise Vollard and Paul Guillaume. Also known is his sculpture A Seated Figure, which is reminiscent of Aztec rather than African art.

Of great significance for Derain was the fact that in 1907 Vlaminck relinquished an African Fang mask from his collection of primitive art to Derain, which the latter hang up on the wall of his studio and which inspired him in his work. Derain started to gather his own collection of African art. Way back in early 1906 he had been greatly impressed in London by the “black collection” of the British Museum, and in Paris he regularly visited the African department of the Ethnography Museum of Trocadero (now Musée de l’Homme). Vlaminck was proud to be the first to take notice of objects of African art that were sold in Paris, but it was precisely for Derain that they became a source of inspiration in creating a totally new art. His contemporaries Kahnweiler, Apollinaire and Cocteau believed that Derain alone succeeded in understanding completely Cezanne’s creative quests and theory of painting and in developing it with the help of African tribal art and called him the precursor of Cubism. In 1916 Кahnweiler called Derain one of the greatest French artists, and the writer and artist André Lhote referred to him as the greatest of the living French artists.

Купальщицы André Derain ★

Bathers, 1908

Derain becomes a recognized master and actively exhibits at the Salon des Independants and the Salon d’Automne, in Berthe Weill’s gallery, together with the ContemporaryArt Group in Le Havre, and at the Art Book Fair in Brussels. His figural composition Bathers, which looked even more radical than Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon (especially the face of the central figure looking like the Fang mask), evoked a great response at the Salon des Independants in the spring of 1907. Picasso himself thought highly of his friend’s work and bought from him a small study for the second version of Bathers of 1908.

Until he moved to the Latin Quarter in 1910, Derain had remained Picasso’s closest friend, staging joint exhibitions with him, going together for summer studies and whiling away the time. It was Picasso who in 1907 introduced Derain to Alice Princet, who was soon to become his girlfriend and subsequently his wife. André met Alice soon after her wedding to the civil servant Maurice Princet, whom she had married to legalize their relations of over seven years. As contemporaries said, it was one of those occasions when, in order to divorce, one had to marry first.

With Picasso’s help Derain concluded a contract in 1907 with the German dealer Daniel Kahnweiler, who lived in Paris and was at that time Picasso’s permanent dealer, and thus attained financial stability. In the winter of 1907/1908 Derain went through a severe crisis as a result of emotional stress and physical overwork, and destroyed most of his works.

Натюрморт с распятием на холме André Derain ★

Still Life in Front of a Cross on Top of the Mountain, 1912

Meanwhile, international recognition of his works was on the rise – Derain contributed to exhibitions in Prague, Dusseldorf, Munich, London, Berlin, Cologne and the “Golden Fleece” exhibition in Moscow. In early 1912 he took part in the exhibition of French paintings in St. Petersburg and the exhibition of modern art in Moscow. That same year he attended the second exhibition of “Der Blaue Reiter” association, and in 1913 the Arsenal exhibition in New York and Boston. During that period he developed a passion for music, bought an organ and restored it, and began to collect musical instruments.

When the First World War broke out on August 2, 1914, Derain was in Vaucluse, Provence, where Braque and Picasso had joined him to work together. Derain and Braque cut short their journey and went to Paris to prepare for mobilization. After five months in the field Derain was sent to the frontline in April 1915. Until 1917 he took part in battles in Champagne, on the Somme, at Verdun, and in the Vosges Mountains. There was next to no chance to exhibit. Nevertheless, in the autumn of 1916 Derain held his first solo show at the gallery of the young art dealer Paul Guillaume in Paris. The catalogue, prefaced by Guillaume Apollinaire, included poems by Pierre Reverdy, Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob and Fernand Divoire. Derain draws and writes poetry for the frontline newspaper Attack. In 1916 he also makes illustrations for Mont de piete, the first book by the founder of Surrealism André Breton. The German magazine Action publishes a mistaken report about Derain’s death. Carl Einstein, a great admirer of modern art and the author of the first book on Black Art, writes verse on his death. Although, fortunately, Derain sustained no serious injury in the course of military operations, the four and a half years of taking part in the war could not but affect the state of mind of the 39-year-old artist.

After being demobilized in March 1919, Derain returns to Paris and resumes contacts with the Montmartre group. At the request of the Ballets russes director Serge Diaghilev he spends three months in London, where he designs stage sets and costumes for the production of La Boutique fantasque (or The Magic Toy Shop) to Rossini’s music at the Alhambra Theater. In London Derain works with Picasso, whom Diaghilev had invited to produce stage designs for the production of The Three-cornered Hat to music by Manuel de Falla, and Matisse, who worked on the ballet The Song of the Nightingale after Andersen to music by Igor Stravinsky.

In 1920 Derain designed a sitting-room for the Norwegian art dealer Walter Halvorsen, who had invited the artist way back in 1916 to attend an exhibition in Oslo. That same year Derain signed a new contract with Kahnweiler, and in 1923 Paul Guillaume became his permanent dealer until his death in 1934.
Вetween 1920 and 1924 four monographs were published on Derain’s works, and he became a fashionable artist and a regular participant in artistic parties and mask balls organized by the patron of arts Count Etienne de Beaumont. Inspired by the success of Diaghilev’s Ballets russes, de Beaumont also staged ballet and drama productions, for which he invited Derain in 1924-6. The artist’s reputation was further enhanced with his winning of the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 1928 and also with his participation in numerous international exhibitions – in London in 1928, Berlin, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf in 1929, New York and Cincinnati in 1930, and again in London and New York in 1931. The Cincinnati Art Museum held the first museum exhibition of Derain’s works: until then he only exhibited in private galleries or at annual salons.

Портрет мадам Франсис Карко André Derain ★

Portrait of Madame Carco, 1923

Like many other artists, in the postwar years Derain was drawn to the unshakable foundations of classical art. This tendency was also characteristic of Matisse, who was branded for lack of social importance in his numerous nudes and portraits, of Picasso, who, among other things, did a pencil portrait of Derain in Neo-realist style in London in 1920, and especially of the Italian artists de Chirico and Severini. In the 1920s Derain lives and works primarily in the south of France, and paints his renowned Pierrots, Harlequins and countless dancers.

In 1921 Derain goes to Italy, where he visits Rome and Castel Gandolfo and paints a series of landscapes. Derain was deeply impressed by High Renaissance painting. He was also attracted to the Fayum portrait and Roman mosaics. In the late 1920s Derain begins to purchase works by Corot and Renoir, as well as drawings by Ingres. He sells his collection of African art and acquires bronzes of the Renaissance period and antique sculpture.

Derain’s art provoked little dispute until the periodical Les Chroniques du jour published a special feature “André Derain: Pour et Contre”, including several articles and essays about his works. His art was described as mechanistic and paralysis-ridden after youthful enthusiasm had abandoned him. Debates went on and on, and opinions split.

In 1929 Derain bought the Chateau de Parouzeau in Chambourcy in the vicinity of St. Germain-en-Laye (Seine-et-Marne), and a year earlier he had built a private house to his own design in rue Douanier, Paris, next to Braque. He said he needed housing in Paris because suitable models were hard to come by in Chambourcy, where he lived with Alice, her sister and the sister’s daughter, all the more so since his contacts with models went beyond professional interest. André officially married Alice on July 10, 1926, after they had lived together for nearly 20 years.

In 1935 Derain sold all of his real estate and finally settled at the Roseraie villa in Chambourcy. He stopped visiting Paris, became a recluse and severed contacts with his old friends. Nevertheless, he continued to exhibit actively. He also went on working for the stage, taking part in Balanchine’s productions at the Theatre des Champs Élysées in Paris, doing stage design for productions of the Ballets russes de Monte Carlo and the Paris Opera. In the 1930s he was prolific in prints and book design, and in 1938 resumed sculpting, especially after a storm had uprooted trees in Chambourcy, turning up a lot of clay for Derain to use. In 1954 the Swiss publisher Pierre Cailler did 74 bronze casts from Derain’s clay sculptures.

Despite the denouncement of Derain’s art by avant-garde figures, he enjoyed solid official recognition. In 1935 a large retrospective was held in Bern, and his works were included in the “Exposition des Artistes Independants” at Petit Palais, mounted within the framework of the Paris World Fair in the summer of 1937.

Derain exhibited at the Lilienfeld Gallery of New York in 1939, at the gallery of Pierre Matisse, son of Henri Matisse who had moved to the USA, in 1940, and at the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery of Los Angeles in 1941 and 1943.

In 1939 Derain’s model Raymonda gave birth to his illegitimate son André (Bobby), whom he acknowledged officially. In 1940 the Derain family, together with son André, left the Chambourcy house and moved to Normandy to escape the German invasion. The Chambourcy house was confiscated by the invading troops, as a result of which the bulk of Derain’s works and property was damaged. Upon his return Derain had at first to stay at his friends’ and then rented apartments in rue Varenne in Paris. Unable to travel, Derain did landscapes at the outskirts of Paris.

Андре Рожи и Андре Дерен André Derain ★

Rogi André and André Derain, 1935

Relations with Alice soured conclusively after the birth of another illegitimate son from another model (whom Derain did not acknowledge officially). His marriage came to an end shortly before Derain’s death in 1953. Trying to protect her financial interests, Alice did her best to stop Derain from associating with both his old friends and with the models, who had sons by Derain.

In November 1941 at the invitation of the German sculptor Arno Breker, a favorite with the Nazi leaders, Derain, together with Vlaminck, Friesz, Van Dongen and other French cultural figures, went to Germany. The French delegation hoped to secure the release of French artists and art school students who had happened to be in Germany after the outbreak of the war and who found themselves in prisons and camps. Despite their good intentions, the delegation failed to attain the desired result. Together with other members of the group who made that trip, Derain was subjected to an Occupation Committee investigation in 1944, which cleared him of all charges. Humiliated, Derain broke off official relations with French leaders.

After the war Derain continued working in stage design, contributing to ballet productions in the Covent Garden, London, and the Opéra Comique, Paris. He painted landscapes in Normandy,  engaged in book design and did iron and copper sculpture. In March 1949 the galerie de Berri of Paris held the first exhibition of the artist in the postwar period. In 1950 the David Finlay gallery staged the first solo show of Derain in New York. That same year Derain contributed to a large-scale exhibition of fauvist paintings at the Kunsthalle of Berne and at the 25th Venice biennale.

In 1953 Derain took part in the production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville at the Aix-de-Provence festival. That same year Derain was found to have a serious eye infection that was never cured. He had a stroke in January 1954. On July14, 1954, the artist was run down by a car not far from his home in Chambourcy. Derain died at the Garches clinic on September 9 and was buried in Chambourcy. In late 1954 the Musée National d’Art Moderne of Paris organized a posthumous retrospective of 179 Derain’s works. In 1955 Derain’s personal collection of artworks and library were sold at a public auction.




André Derain. Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia, Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne. 2003

Hilary Spurling, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869 – 1908. University of California Press, 2001

Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas