About the artist:
Born in Paris in April 1876, his Father was Flemish (indeed the original name De Wlaminck is the Flemish word meaning Flemish) and his mother was from Lorraine; both were musicians. They settled in the western Parisian suburb of Le Vésinet in 1879. Records show that Maurice was married by 1894 and had many children. He did his military service from 1896-1899 and afterwards earned money by giving music lessons and as a professional violinist for the Théâtre du Chateau d’Eau. Working also as a courier on his bicycle, he cut a bohemian figure, with robust gypsy looks and an unconventional outlook. Maurice de Vlaminck was never trained as an artist, except for some early advice on drawing from Robichon, who was a member of the Société des Artistes Français and from Henri Rigal, with whom he worked on the Eyot of Chatou on the Seine and at Pont de Chatou. He learned most by looking at the work of other contemporary artists, making visits to the art galleries in the rue Laffitte. He liked the Impressionists and in 1900 he met Monet. Most influentially, though, he became a friend of André Dérain, with whom he rented a dilapidated studio on the Eyot of Chatou, near Le Vésinet, where they became the only members of the self-styled, two-member Ecole de Chatou. They spent their time together studying, painting, discussing and developing various theories. Living and working on the banks of the Seine, lazing about in rowing boats and yachts, most of Vlaminck’s subjects from 1900-1904 reflect the harmless profligacy of the easy life. Together with Dérain he visited the van Gogh Exhibition in 1901. It proved a turning point and Vlaminck was profoundly impressed by the freedom in van Gogh’s style and his use of pure colour. Vlaminck suffered what he considered to be a personal betrayal when his soulmate Dérain, four years younger, abandoned their clique and enrolled at the Académie to learn the basics of his craft. It was Vlaminck, though, who was to take the art world by storm. He exhibited in the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris in 1904, he met Matisse and others of his circle, and in 1905 he showed at the Salon des Indépendants. Most important, later that year his work was included in the famous cage aux fauves at the Salon d’Automne in the company of Matisse, Marquet, Dérain, Rouault, Manguin, Camoin, Puy and Friesz. After that he never really stuck with one particular salon, preferring to exhibit groups of paintings in different galleries. His first full-scale public exhibition was with Vollard in 1906, after which Vollard purchased everything in Vlaminck’s studio. During the few years when he, as others among the Fauves used pure colour (that is using the paint exactly as it came out of the tube), the artist rejected on principle the study of the chemistry of colour and its correct use. This carefree approach, combined with Vlaminck’s slender means which kept him from buying the best quality paints (indeed it seems he bought the cheapest available until about 1912) has meant that the canvases from this era have not withstood the test of time. Increasingly between 1908 and 1914, Vlaminck abandoned the use of pure colour and alongside his friends André Dérain and Othon Friesz, based his work on the teachings of Cézanne. Vlaminck was clearly overwhelmed by the intensity of Cézanne’s brushwork and attention to light. Vlaminck has adopted the strong blues and greens of Cézanne’s palette and his signature diagonal brushstrokes, while employing bold, Fauve elements typical of earlier works. His construction of volume and space bordered on cubism, though he denounced the Cubist approach as over-intellectual and sterile. His style, now fully developed, remained constant for much of the rest of his life. It owes much to Expressionism but is as individual a style as this rugged revolutionary could make it. He loved crowds, popular amusements and speed, being fascinated by its effect on vision. He concentrated on landscapes of stormy weather with dark shadows, strong light effects and wild skies. His technique of slashing brush strokes and heavy impasto recall Courbet, with whom his work is often compared. He also painted town scenes, interiors, still lifes, portraits and nudes. Some of Vlaminck’s best works are in watercolour and gouache, and he was a fine draughtsman, lithographer as well as wood engraver. He illustrated a number of books with pen and ink drawings, (now rarely found), among them Le diable au corps by Raymond Radiguet, Les Hommes abandonnés by Georges Duhamel, En suivant la Seine by Gustave Coquiot, Mont-Cinère by Julien Green, Grasse Normandie by G Reuillard, and Voyages by Vanderpyl. He also illustrated many of his own novels, poems and essays, among them Histoires et Poèmes de mon époque, Communications and Tournant dangereux. In 1919 he exhibited at Druet and later was represented in a number of Exhibitions devoted to Fauvism. Notable among these: in 1951 and 1957 at the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne de Paris, in 1952-53 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in 1962 at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris. The Museum of Fine Arts in Chartres held an exhibition of his work in 1987. He also showed his work in Brussels and in 1955 Vlaminck was honoured by his family’s country of origin with his election as a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium. Exhibitions Museums: Antwerp, Avignon, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Chartres, Chicago, Epinal, Grenoble, Le Havre, London (Tate Gallery), Munich, Nantes, New York (Museum of Modern Art), Ottowa, Paris (Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Musée du Petit Palais, Bibliothèque Nationale), St Tropez, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Troyes, Washington DC (National Gallery).
Born in Paris in April 1876, his Father was Flemish (indeed the original name De Wlaminck is the Flemish word meaning Flemish) and his mother was from Lorraine; both were musicians. They settled in the western Parisian suburb of Le Vésinet in