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Dutch Fauvist

Nederlandse Fauvisten - Lyklema Fine Art

It was the French art critic Louis Vauxcelles who gave the name to Fauvism. At the 1905 Salon d'Automne, the sculptor Donatello exhibited among striking works by Henri Matisse's friends.

Kees van Dongen

Kees van Dongen - Portrait of a Lady

Indignantly, the critic wrote: "La candeur de ce buste surprend au milieu de l'orgie des tons purs: Donatello parmi les fauves". Donatello's image among the wild animals and so the movement was henceforth called "fauvism". Fauvism did not work about a coherent group of painters; what temporarily bound them together was a common interest in painting flat patterns and 'wild' colours.

Marquet and Matisse already painted in this way in 1898, at the Académie Carrière; at the Salon d'Automne 1905, kindred spirits such as Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, Pierre Laprade, Kees van Dongen, Raoul Dufy, Othon Friesz and Georges Rouault also showed their Fauvist work.

The French went to great lengths in using their unalloyed direct colors to manifest their freedom. It is clear that they were influenced by the bright colors of Vincent van Gogh and the use of color of Paul Gauguin. Artists had to stand out among the new exact representation of photography.

Jan Sluijters -1912 - Maanlicht IV

Jan Sluijters - 1912 - Maanlicht IV

This generation of painters used a new color palette such as that offered in ready-made tubes by the Talens company, among others, from 1899 onwards. This allowed the Fauves (and the Impressionists and Expressionists) to go out into the wide world and squeeze the paint out of the tube outside, without having to mix it themselves. That's what they did, with a generous hand.

Museum Boijmans made this video about Kees van Dongen:

Jan Sluijters was attracted by Fauvism for a short time. He won the Prix de Rome in 1904, which allowed him to (and had to) develop as a classical painter. In 1906 he made paintings in the Fauvist style, inspired by Derain and de Vlaminck, as a result of which the jury of the Prix de Rome stopped his annual allowance and Sluijters almost immediately returned to the Netherlands and ultimately opted for a more realistic style, in which color was a continued to play an important role.

Jan Sluijters-Boslaantje 1907

Jan Sluijters - 1907 - Boslaantje

From the 1907 Salon onwards, at which Paul Cézanne received a retrospective overview, most interest was again focused on the geometric cubist works of the newer art expression, cubism. However, Matisse and Van Dongen largely stick to the style they developed in the Fauvist period.

Kees van Dongen - 1917 - FIDÉLITÉ 1917.

Kees van Dongen - 1917 - FIDÉLITÉ 

Piet Mondriaan was also (or was) inspired by the colors of the fauvist Kees van Dongen. Since 1899, Mondrian had an interest in Theosophy in which people should strive for spiritualization and the world is not chaotic, but calm, peaceful and harmonious. According to the Theosophists, this astral world is characterized by expressive colors. From there, Mondrian opens himself up to the influences of the Expressionists and Fauvists. Blue (as the color of darkness) and red (as a complementary color to blue) are therefore becoming increasingly common in Mondrian's work. The painting Evening: The Red Tree is a good example of this. The symbolist meaning of colors and the idea that complementary colors should be used together to create harmony are two aspects of Goethe's color theory that Mondrian translated into his paintings.

Piet Mondriaan - 1907 - Avond: De rode Boom - Gemeente Museum Den Haag

Piet Mondriaan - 1907 - Avond: De rode Boom 


Leo van Gestel is also associated with the Fauves. After all, he regularly travels to Paris with Sluijters. However, his biography does not mention Fauvism and his works also show too few larger colorful surfaces. Gestel is undeniably a modernist who incorporated the colors of the leading painters from Paris into his work. Gestel was captivated by Cubism. In 1911, the modern art circle organized an exhibition featuring Braque, Cezanne, Dufy, Picasso and Le Fauconnier. The latter was again at the cradle of the Bergen School. In that loose group, Weijand's work is undeniably strongly influenced by the Fauvists. Other work by the Bergen School had similarities with the style of the Fauvists, only in more earthy tones.

Jaap Weijand - Bergense School

We also wrote a blog about Herman Gouwe. As far as we are concerned, he can also be counted among the Fauvists because of his use of color, he also maintained that style longer than his inspiring contemporaries and fellow villagers in 't Gooi: Gestel, Sluijters, Mondriaan and Hart Nibbrig. Between 1908 and 1927 he alternately painted the rolling hills in sunny colors in Limburg and around 't Gooi. In 1927 he left for Tahiti to avoid having to paint the plowing horses again and again.

De Maaier-1925-Frans Hals Museum
De Maaier-1925-Frans Hals Museum


In 1948, a number of young expressionists with similar ideas united in the Cobra group. This movement, which expanded on Expressionism and Fauvism, caused a revival of modern art in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Nowadays the term "fauvism" is also used to indicate a certain way of painting. Features include:

  • it is mainly about color and shape
  • often unmixed pigments
  • simplification, flatness, intense
  • unnatural

This can help you identify a work of art or even an artist and discover what you find beautiful and attractive to have yourself someday. On our site we do have a number of works made along the lines of Fauvism.

Like the one of Freek van den Berg


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