French artist André Derain was born on June 10, 1880. Along with his friend Henri Matisse, he was the founder of the Fauvist movement. A key moment in his career was when he was commissioned to paint a series of canvases of the city of London. These vivid paintings have remained among his most popular works. When an art dealer purchased everything he had on hand in his studio, Derain had the financial freedom to experiment with other genres, such as sculpture. He moved to Montmartre where he lived and worked near Pablo Picasso.
He served in World War I and the post-war years were marked by his use of more subdued colors and classical forms. Derain also branched into designing ballets for his friend Diaghilev of Paris’ Ballet Russes. During World War II, he agreed to travel to Berlin as a guest of the Nazi government and he was branded a collaborator. He was killed in 1954 while crossing the road. It’s possible that the accident was the result of loss of vision due to a serious eye infection the year before his death. If you own a Derain painting, you’d probably be able to sell it for around $6 million.
Today’s phrase “l’art a pour mission d’égaliser le temps” is a Derain quotation that means “the mission of art is to equalize time.” It’s from a treatise about art that he never finished. He was trying to explain that art should be concerned with the universal truths that are the foundation of all human experience. No small undertaking!
- Matisse @The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2013 (sahrahussain.com)
- Picasso’s mistress leads sale of modern masterpieces (telegraph.co.uk)
- Pablo Picasso, Paris-style (morningstaronline.co.uk)