Art Notes: The Fauves Invade the Academy
Bruce, Donald, Contemporary Review
Masters of Colour from Derain to Kandinsky, an exhibition which continues until 17 November at the Royal Academy, offers a rare chance to see pictures from the Merzbacher Collection, notable for its paintings by the Fauves and their associates. The Impressionists established the principle that colour is not absolute but relative to the time of the day, the light cast by the weather, and the radiance of adjacent tints. The Fauves took relativity further: colour was what they decreed it to be according to their decorative purpose and the inner weather of their moods. They shunned the Impressionists' hazy unemphatic diffusion of colour. The colours they preferred were so vivid that their quizzical mentor Eugene Carriere once asked them how, if they painted a parrot, they would make it stand out against its background. The use of intense local colour was nearly all they had in common. Fauvism was never a formal movement; merely a chance and transitory convergence, from 1905 to 1908, of friends, all admirers of He nri Matisse.
The derisive term Fauves, or wild animals, was first applied (and gleefully accepted by the artists) to the pictures painted by Matisse and Andre Derain at Collioure in the summer of 1905. The swimming meridional heat in Matisse's Interior at Collioure is implied by the patchy undulant colours of an hotel room in which one woman, literally flat out, slumps clothed on a bed whilst another seeks fresh air on Matisse's customary balcony overlooking the sea. …