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Fauvism: Wild Beasts in the Art World

At the 1905 Salon exhibit in Paris, a group of paintings featuring uncontrolled brushwork, vivid colors and distorted forms shocked the art world. A critic, comparing the paintings to Renaissance-style art, likened the artists of the paintings to “les fauves,” or “wild beasts.” Hence the name “Fauvism” which characterizes this style of art that emphasizes expressive use of color, line and brushwork to convey a mood.

The Fauvist movement suffered much mockery and derision at its start but gained respect as major art dealers began to show an interest in it. Although the movement was short-lived, from about 1905 to 1908, it is often considered to be the first real break with traditional Western art since the Renaissance and the first revolutionary art movement of the 20th century.

The Fauvist movement is believed to have been significantly influenced by Gauguin and van Gogh whose innovative works motivated artists to experiment with more liberating forms of artistic expression. Likewise, Fauvism is believed to have had a significant influence on the development of Expressionism.

Leading artists involved in the Fauvist movement were Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Braque and Raoul Dufy. For most of these artists, Fauvism represented an evolutionary stage in their artistic development, enabling them to move on to other styles such as Cubism. The exception was Henri Matisse, who continued to pursue the path he had blazed.

To learn a bit about the life of Henri Matisse and to view some of his paintings, click here.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
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