Fauvism, Cubism and German Expressionism

Essay by grapey666High School, 12th gradeA, April 2004

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The mystique of "The Primitive" was a very significant influence on early Twentieth Century art movements, especially Fauvism and Cubism. Artists were beginning to reject traditional painting styles, and the death of Queen Victoria was extremely significant. The invention of the camera meant that people were now able to take photographs. This meant that artists would not necessarily need to be employed in order to paint rich people's portraits.

The term "Fauvism" was coined by art critic, Louis Vauxcelles, who after seeing the 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition in Paris, described the artists as "Les Fauves", meaning wild beasts. Fauvism was a relatively short movement, last only about three years. The artists involved belong to either Le Havre group, or Ecole des Beaux-Arts group.

Two of the main artists from this period were Henri Matisse and André Derain. They were influenced by the German Philosopher, Nietzche, as well as poetry written by Stephan Mallarme.

Matisse studied under Gustave Moreau. Traditional and materialistic painting styles were rejected. Artists had begun to be influenced by primitive artworks, such as African masks, and there were also Egyptian, Iberian and Oceanic influences.

Henri Matisses's, "The Green Stripe" is a portrait of Madame Matisse. Sections of the painting are barely painted, and her face has a brilliant, intentional pea green stripe which has been painted from her forehead to her chin, dividing her face. The primitive influence is evident here, as her face has been painted using dark lines, looking very similar to an African mask. There is a slight oriental feel to Matisse's work, especially the patterns that have been used in "Harmony in Red".

André Derain's, "Westminster Bridge" has little perspective and makes strong use of juxtaposed colour and complimentary contrasts. His exciting use of blue and orange should be noted, as...