The name of the movement, Fauvism, comes from the French
word “les Fauves” – “wild beasts”. The
name was given after the Salon d’Automne of 1905 by the critic Louis Vauxcelles,
who thought that it was “an orgy of tones”. This not very flattering review
gave the name to what whould soon become one of the most vivid and daring art styles
of the incipient Modernism.
First, let’s figure out what exactly fauvists did. Andre
Derain and Henri Matisse are usually considered as the founding fathers of the
movement. Their innovation was connected with the coloring techniques. Fauvists
exaggerated the colors they saw in nature, and often were using the paint
straight from the tube. At the beginning of 20th century that was
considered as an outrageous move.
Remember, during that period of time, there was no Cubism yet; Malevich had not finished his abstract masterpiece, and Marcel
Duchamp did not present his Fountain. Impressionism was still around, but it
still provided a certain set of composition rules and coloring schemes.
Fauvist drew an inspiration from Van Gough and Gauguin,
who were famous for the unusual color implication, where the first one used
color for emphasizing the movement, and the latter as a symbol of spiritual embodiment.
They also used the Impressionist concept of painting rather the impression they
get from the subject, rather than depicting it similar to the objective
reality. The themes of their paintings were shifted towards those closer to the
ones Impressionists had: landscapes, bourgeois leisure, and nature.
It is important to note, that unlike many other
movements, Fauvism did not have any manifestos or defined group structure. It
was rather a tendency that had united several artists under the similar artistic
pursuits. Probably that was one of the reasons they did not last a long time,
and by 1908 the members of the movement had moved on to another experiments
with perspective and forms.
So basically the essence of Fauvism was in explosion
of colors. In colors that were used as a tool of personal expression, as a
fresh point of view on the reality.
“I would like to recapture that freshness of vision
which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it.”-
And the main importance of the movement is a shift
towards the imagination and freedom. Towards something more daring and abstract
than our eye see. The first step towards this aim was made by the Impressionists,
and the next one was taken by Fauvists. The Idea, as usual, stands in
a head of all changes. So in the general context of the art history, these first
steps were incredibly important. But leaving aside the art history, fauvist
paintings are a magnificent quintessence of joyfulness, summer memories, and a childish
excitement about the world around us.