The Fauves

Fauvism developed in France to become the first new artistic style of the 20th century. The best known Fauve artists include Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Maurice Vlaminck who pioneered its distinctive style. Their work was a grand departure from the drab colors and serious nature of art at the turn of the century. The Fauves (translated as “Wild Beasts”) produced bright cheery landscapes and figure paintings, characterized by pure vivid color and bold distinctive brushwork, and not based on an object’s natural appearance. One of Fauvism's major contributions to modern art was its radical goal of contrasting bold colors to project a mood without having to be true to the natural world, and a desire to create an art that would appeal primarily to the viewers’ senses.

Matisse emerged as the leader of the group, whose members shared the use of intense color as a vehicle for describing light and space, and who redefined pure color and form as means of communicating the artist's emotional state. In these regards, Fauvism proved to be an important path to Cubism and Expressionism as well as future modes of abstraction.


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