André Derain, born in Chatou, France, was a painter, sculptor, printmaker and designer – he was one of the principal Fauvists. After studying painting in Paris at the Académie Carriere from 1898-1899, he developed his early style in association with Maurice de Vlaminck, painting outdoors with him in the areas around Paris. In 1905, Derain joined Henri Matisse, who had been a fellow student at the Académie Carriere, in Collioure, where he discovered the light of the Mediterranean. Together, they were some of the major exponents of Fauvism from 1905-1908. Like the other artists who worked in this style, he painted landscapes and figure studies in brilliant, sometimes pure colours and used broken brushstrokes and impulsive lines to define his spontaneous compositions.
Derain broke with Fauvism in 1908, when he was temporarily influenced by the works of the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. Derain worked for a few years in a stylised form of Cubism, but by the 1920’s his paintings of nudes, still lifes and portraits had become increasingly Neoclassical, and the spontaneity and impulsiveness that had distinguished his earlier work gradually disappeared. His art underwent virtually no change after the 1920’s, though his more conservative style brought him financial success.
Derain had considerable ability as a decorator and created theatrical designs, notably for the Ballet Russes. He also produced numerous book illustrations, often in woodcut, for works by authors such as François Rabelais, Antonin Artaud and André Breton.