Maurice de Vlaminck was born on 4 April 1876, in Paris. However, when he was three years old, his family would move into his maternal grandmother’s house in Le Vésinet, where he would grow up. In 1894, he married Suzanne Berly and began to paint casually – since 1892 he had been making a living as a competitive cyclist, though his sporting career would be curtailed following a bout of typhoid fever in 1897. The following year, Vlaminck joined the infantry. A chance meeting with André Derain on a train in 1900, whilst on leave from the army, inspired Vlaminck to take up painting seriously. Vlaminck and Derain shared a studio on the island of Chatou from 1900 to 1901, and would remain lifelong friends. Vlaminck would also develop a close friendship with Guillaume Apollinaire, who he met in 1903.
Vlaminck’s first showing of his work was at the infamous Salon d’Automne of 1905. Vlaminck’s use of vibrant, unnatural colours and bold brushstrokes, as also seen in the work of Charles Camoin, Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse and André Derain, compelled critic Louis Vauxcelles to call the paintings in this style “fauves” (“wild beasts”) – a term that would come to describe the artists themselves. Vlaminck continued to paint in a fauvist manner, exhibiting in a group show of fauvism at Galerie Berthe Weill, Paris (1907). From 1907, the influence of Cézanne is increasingly apparent in Vlaminck’s compositions, briefly developing towards a Cubist visual language around 1910; Vlaminck frequented the Bateau-Lavoir from 1905, where he regularly saw both Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Vlaminck travelled to London for the first time in 1911, and in the following year exhibited in the Der Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich. In 1913, he exhibited at the Armory Show in New York and signed an exclusive contract with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler – he had previously worked closely with Ambrose Vollard.
Vlaminck was stationed in Rouen and Paris during the First World War, and began to write poetry. Afterwards, he would eventually settle in Rueil-la-Gadelière, a small village south-west of Paris. He continued to paint, travelling around France and producing still-lifes and landscapes, particularly by the Seine. His palette became increasingly sombre in the lead up and during the Second World War. He died on 11 October 1958, in Rueil-la-Gadalière.
Vlaminck’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.