André Derain was born on 17 June 1880, in Chatou, near Paris. He began painting in 1895, frequenting the Louvre where he discovered the Primitive painters. Shortly afterwards, Derain joined the Académie Camillo where he studied under the Symbolist painter Eugène Carrière. There, he met Henri Matisse and in 1900, befriended Maurice de Vlaminck. In 1905, Derain exhibited eight works at the Salon des Indépendants – selling three to Russian collector Ivan Morozov – and spent the summer painting with Matisse in Collioure. In the autumn, Derain would exhibit in the same room as Matisse, Vlaminck, Kees Van Dongen, Albert Marquet, Georges Roualt, Alexej von Jawlensky and Wassily Kandinsky in the Salon d’Automne, an infamous exhibition that prompted critic Louis Vauxcelles to use the term ‘fauve’ (wild beast) for the first time.
Over the next few years, Derain continued to exhibit at both the Salon des Indépendants and Salon d’Automne (1906, 1907, 1908, 1909) and in 1905 and 1906, visited London, producing cityscapes characterised by vibrant colours, fragmented brushstrokes and unbroken light. Along with friends – including Picasso, Braque, Dufy and Freisz – Derain travelled regularly around the South of France, staying in Cassis, L’Estaque, Cagnes and Marseilles. From 1907 onwards, the influence of Cézanne is increasingly evident in Derain’s application of paint and formal compositions, eventually developing into a proto-Cubist style. In the lead up to the First World War, Derain exhibited in group shows across Europe (Moscow, 1909, 1912; Munich, 1910, 1912; London, 1910, 1912; Berlin, 1911, 1912; St. Petersburg, 1912; Cologne, 1912) and three of his paintings featured in the Armory Show in 1913, New York.
After the First World War, Derain found increasing commercial success. In 1920, André Lhote described him as the “greatest living French painter” in the Nouvelle Revue Française. Having been represented by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler from before the war, in 1924 he broke his contract to work with Paul Guillaume. Nudes and figurative works dominate his output from the 1920s and in the 1930s, classical mythology becomes a regular motif. He also returned to sculpture – which he first explored in wood and stone circa 1906 – with increased vigour. Derain worked with clay and terracotta, and, particularly after the Second World War, metal. He died on 9 September 1954, in Paris.
Derain’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; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK), Vienna; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Musée Cantini, Marseille; the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; the Tate Collection, London.
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