Born on 10 June 1880, André Derain was a french artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism. The artist was considered by leading critics in the 1920s to be the most outstanding French avant-garde painter and at the same time the upholder of the classical spirit of French tradition.
Derain was born in Châtou, a suburb of Paris. He began to paint when he was about 15 and had first planned to become an engineer before suddenly deciding to study art. In 1898-1899, he attended the Academy Carrière in Paris, where he met Henri Matisse. In the early 1900’s the artist shared a studio with his friend Vlaminck, painted with Matisse at Collioure near Marseilles, and was a frequent visitor to the ramshackle studios on the rue Ravignan, known as the Bateau Lavoir, where his friends Braque and Picasso worked.
As a Fauve, Derain was principally concerned with line and colour. He enjoyed squeezing tubes of bright color on his canvas, particularly pinks, blues, and violets. In March 1906, the noted art dealer Ambroise Vollard sent Derain to London to compose a series of paintings with the city as subject. Derain's London paintings, like Westminster Bridge, remain among his most popular Fauve masterpieces.
In 1907 art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler purchased Derain's entire studio, granting him financial stability. Derain moved to Montmartre to be near his friend Pablo Picasso and other noted artists, and experimented with stone sculpture.
In and around 1908, Derain turned to the study of form and structure, and experimented with Cubism, Impressionism, and the styles of van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cezanne, in an effort to find a style that pleased him. Around 1911, he became attracted to Italian and French primitive masters. The role of colour was reduced and forms became austere; the years 1911–1914 are sometimes referred to as his gothic period.
In 1914 Derain was mobilized for military service in World War I and until his release in 1919 had little time for painting. After the war, Derain won new acclaim as a leader of the renewed classicism that was then ascendant. With the wildness of his Fauve years far behind, he was admired as an upholder of tradition.
In 1919 he designed the ballet La Boutique fantasque for Diaghilev, leader of the Ballets Russes. A major success, it would lead to his creating many ballet designs.
In the later years of his career, after 1920, he painted brilliant still lives, classical landscapes, and some of his finest portraits, although none of these were ever exhibited.
Derain died on 8 September 1954.