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  Fauves (French, ‘wild animals’) was the disparaging term given by the French critic Vauxcelles to a group of artists including Derain, Rouault and Vlaminck who exhibited at the Paris autumn Salon of 1905. What disconcerted him—he was comparing their work with Donatello\'s sculpture—was the dazzle of colour that filled their canvases: large areas of flat, unmodulated colour, often thickly applied and with little resemblance to Nature. In fact the Fauvists used colour, not as the Impressionists had done, to transcribe the ‘reality’ of surface appearance, but to fix the expressionistic properties of brilliant colour as a structural device. Thus, Matisse in Green Stripe (Madame Matisse) (1905) used olive green to project his wife\'s nose and brow away from the warm flesh tone of her cheeks without recourse to orthodox devices of modelling or delineation. The brush-strokes, boldly applied across the picture surface, serve to draw further attention to the non-recessional nature of the implied picture space. (In this respect, Fauvism had been anticipated centuries earlier, by such such artists as Mantegna, Rembrandt and El Greco.) Apart from colouristic brilliance—which had great influence on such Expressionists as Munch and Kokoschka—the Fauvists had very little else in common, and soon went their separate ways. Their immediate predecessors include van Gogh and Gauguin; later painters influenced by their style range from Dufy and Kandinsky to Bacon, Rauschenberg and Soutine. MG PD

Further reading J.E. Muller, Fauvism.



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