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Matisse and Derain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

For nine weeks in the summer of 1905, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and André Derain (1880-1954) engage in a creative collaboration that will change the course of French painting.

From October 13, 2023 to January 21, 2024, the exhibition "Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism" will present, for the first time in the United States, the legacy of this legendary summer through 65 paintings , drawings and watercolors lent by national and international museums and private collections.

André Derain. Collioure - le port de pêche. 1905. Collection particulière
André Derain. Collioure - le port de pêche. 1905. Collection particulière

Henri Matisse arrives by train in the small fishing port of Collioure on May 16, 1905. Joined by his wife Amélie and their two boys. he rents a room which serves as his workshop at the port of Avall.

André Derain joined him on July 5, 1905. For nearly two months, they worked together, confronting their points of view, sharing their thoughts. During their stay, Matisse and Derain were inspired by the local environment to discover the bustling life of the port, the quiet beaches and the surrounding landscapes. A new aesthetic of color and light was underway.

Henri Matisse. Vue de Collioure. 1905. Musée de l'Hermitage. Saint Petersbourg
Henri Matisse. Vue de Collioure. 1905. Musée de l'Hermitage. Saint Petersbourg

Their evolving visual language reflects the sensory experience of a moment in time, rather than observable reality – a field of sand brushed in saturated red, a cork oak tree outlined in pink, shadows of reflected light in dazzling hues . Henri Matisse writes: "My choice of colors is not based on any scientific theory; it is based on observation, on feeling, on the experience of my sensitivity."

André Derain. Madame Matisse en kimono. 1905. Tate Modern
André Derain. Madame Matisse en kimono. 1905. Tate Modern

Exhibiting several paintings at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in November 1905, Matisse and Derain were both booed and praised. They disconcerted the public, aroused controversy and soon galvanized a group of contemporary artists to follow their path – a new path in European art that radically contradicted conventional norms. In response to the now legendary Salon exhibition, art critic Louis Vauxcelles called them "Fauves", literally "wild beasts".


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