The Wild Beasts of Collioure

Visiting the Catalan port of Collioure 110 years after Derain And Matisse it is not difficult, despite the inevitable development, to recognise the amazing light and scenery that was to inspire their art. Matisse2Situated on the Mediterranean and in the foothills of the Pyrenees the old fishing village provides  a perfect muse.  Ever since their fateful visit in 1905 the village of Collioure has been warmly linked to the birth of a new approach to painting – Fauvism.Derain9 Derain8

Matisse arrived in May and was joined by Derain a few weeks later at the start of July and they were to work together throughout the forthcomming summer. Their work had up to then had been steeped in the post-impressionist approach but during this time in Collioure their work was to make a bold leap.  Spuring each other on through times of doubt and excitement such by Steptember they had produced, between them, around 100 watercolours, 50 canvases and over 100 drawings.Old Collioure pic

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They began to produce images that lost their tonality and imitation. The work became increasingly  about emotion through colour, balance and harmony.Derain3 Derain2 Derain7

Although their work was similar in outcome they appear to have worked in very different ways; Derain harnessing his instinct to produce direct work at speed whist Matisse seems to have worked in a slower, much more calculated manner. It is interesting to to see how far they had come when compared to work of their friend Manguin who was working further along the French coast in St Tropez at the same time.Manguin

Both artists had substituted the objective  illusion of reality for a new visual approach relying on subjectivity and emotion. This was art produced for the artist himself not for anyone else.Matisse1 Matisse3

Matisse never worked with Derain again and although Matisse was to return to Collioure many time Derain never did.

The first time their paintings were shown to public at the 1905 Salon d’Automme in Room VII alongside work by Vlaminck, Camoin, Marquet and a couple of conventionalDerain11 Matisse5 sculptures by Albert Marque. The experience of the room was to cause the critic Louis Vauxcelles to make his now famous pronouncement ‘..Donatello at home among the wild beasts (Fauves)’.

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