André Derain French, 1880-1954

Derain began painting in 1895 and from 1898 he studied at Académie Camillo, where he met Matisse and Jean Puy. In 1900 he met Vlaminck and shared a studio with him. In 1901 his ideas were revolutionized by the Van Gogh exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune and when he began painting again in 1904 after a period of military service he adopted the manner of the Fauves. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in this year and spent the summer painting at Collioure with Matisse and participated in the famous Fauve exhibition at the Salon d'Automne. While he always continued to paint in the south of France, in 1907 he renewed his contact with Picasso, whom he had met the previous year, and with the group of painters who frequented the Bateau-Lavoir. In 1910 he was painting with Picasso at Cadaques in Spain and when war was declared in 1914 he was with Picasso and Braque at Montfavet, near Avignon. During these years he had much in common with the theories of the Cubists and although he never brought himself entirely within the movement, his paintings were not without influence on the development of Cubist aesthetics in the early years. From 1911 he had begun to disassociate himself from the Cubists and under the influence of the Italian and French primitives he entered upon what became known as his 'Gothic' period. Derain was always questioning his position and he was never rooted in one particular style for very long. Unlike Picasso, Derain moved gradually towards a more restrained, some would say academic, position - endlessly seeking a visual language that could demonstrate lineage to the great works of the past. He was, from the 1920s onwards, an essentially classical painter without ever becoming traditional. Giacometti wrote: 'Derain excites me more, has given me more and taught me more than any painter since Cézanne; to me he is the most audacious of them all.'