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Derain, Andre (French, b.1880, d.1954), Artist
Un Paysage
oil on canvas
515 x 1010 mm sight size; 740 x 1210 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1947 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
By the late 1890s André Derain had surrendered his engineering studies to his interest in art, and particularly the study of early Renaissance paintings. Some Symbolist painters of the time created reproductions of these 14th-century works, executed in vibrant colours directly out of the paint tube. This experimentation intrigued the young Derain and it was at a Van Gogh exhibition in 1901, when Henri Matisse was introduced to Maurice de Vlaminck by Derain, that the Fauve group had its beginnings. These three were the core promoters of the movement.
Derain is most widely known for his Fauvist works – brightly coloured compositions made up of short dynamic brush strokes. However, he was an artist who constantly evaluated his approach. His experimentation with Cubism, following on from his Fauve period, was shortlived, and his painting gradually evolved into a style that synthesised the classic with the modern. David Elliott, British-born museum curator, called Derain’s a ‘velvet revolution’ rather than the turbulent and sometimes controversial ‘scream’ of a newly born art movement.
Un Paysage was probably produced in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Derain has used a palette of ochre, cream and green with a superb understanding of Cézannesque composition and construction, while offering a sense of the classic. The dynamic horizontals of the foreground landscape and the sky are charged through his use of light. This in turn reinforces the notion that the town is nestled in a hollow in a landscape of mainly cultivated fields. The upright of the distant church steeple and the foreground tree create interest and movement as well as balance in the composition.

not on view

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