La partie de campagne – Maurice de Vlaminck


The 19th century put an end to Academic painting but the evolution didn’t stop there. The 20th century kept going that way and Fauvism was one the first movements of that century.

Maurice de Vlaminck (1876 – 1958) was one the Fauves (we do not say fauvists). The two others famous ones were Matisse (the founder of the Fauvism) and Derain. De Vlaminck was self-taught, and his vocation revealed itself only in 1900 when he met Derain. He met Matisse for the first time in 1901 and they went to see a Van Gogh exhibition. There, they admired the purity of the colors. All three of them, and a few more painters, were part of 1905’s Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon) where they were called the Fauves for the first time. De Vlaminck was an anarchist and he showed it in his paintings. These are made of pure colors coming directly from the tube. His art is rebellious and instinctive. His touch is very personal, mixing the divisionists’ brushstrokes, Van Gogh’s ones, and solid colors.

This partie de campagne was painted in 1905 and it is now in a private collection. In this painting, the colors are set on a canvas almost without preparation. This technique allows the color to soak into the grain of the canvas and bloom freely. This reveals another influence for De Vlaminck: Cézanne. Indeed, Cézanne used to do the same, and on some of his paintings you can still see the naked canvas. There is a refusal of depth. Only the color makes up the perspective. The brushstrokes are thick, nervous, like commas or whirlwinds. The colors are always placed as a solid color which confers some power, a dynamism. We can feel the ebullient sensitivity of Vlaminck, which is similar to Van Gogh’s. This painting shows some gyrating movement disturbing the foreground, which is recurrent in his artwork. The painter wants to show his interior state and allow you to see what he can observe while moving. This is a purely sensory representation of a lived and seen moment from the artist.

Fauvism is an art movement which started in 1905 and finished in 1907. The goal of the movement was to separate the color from the object. The Fauves wanted to free the expressivity of color. They were inspired by the 19th century experiments (impressionists, neo-impressionists, divisionists, pointillists…). The Fauves refused the depth of the canvas. It was an emotional painting. The colors used by the Fauves are violent and bright, sometimes they used a white preparation to emphasize the brightness. The most important idea in the Fauvism is that the color rules the painting.


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