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Course: Arts and Culture: Modern to Contemporary Times
Lesson Title:


Standards:9.2.12.A.Explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work in the arts. 9.2.12.B.Relate works in the arts chronologically to historical events (e.g., 10,000 B.C. to present). 9.2.12.C.Relate works in the arts to varying styles and genre and to the periods in which they were created (e.g., Bronze Age, Ming Dynasty, Renaissance, Classical, Modern, Post-Modern, Contemporary, Futuristic, others). 9.3.12.G. Analyze works in the arts by referencing the judgments advanced by arts critics as well as one's own analysis and critique. 9.4.12. B. Describe and analyze the effects that works in the arts have on groups, individuals and the culture

Objectives: Students will learn the history behind Fauvism, view works in the style, and learn how critics and the general public reacted to the style.

Essential Question(s): What artistic qualities were important to the Fauvists? What key artists worked in this style? What medium did the Fauvists work in? How was Fauvism received by art critics and the general public?



Maurice de Vlaminck, Still Life with Fish



Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Peppermint Bottle

Two key Fauvists, Vlaminck and Matisse, were both inspired by Post-Impressionist painters. Vlaminck actually once said that he loved Vincent van Gogh more than his own father! He admired the fact that Van Gogh used pure paint straight from the tube to the canvas. Matisse was inspired by Paul Cezanne's work.

The Cubists were in turn inspired by the Fauvists. They used the innovative color and line work as a base for their own exploration of artistic space.


Juan Gris, Still Life with Fruit Dish and Mandolin

Key Artists:

Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, Andre Derain

Key Points:

  • "Fauvist" is French for "Wild Beast"
  • Fauvism was the first truly "Avant Garde" movent of Modern Art
  • Fauvists used paint straight from the tube without mixing it first
  • Objects in paintings were often unnatural colors
  • Items and scenes were highly simplified
  • Landscapes were depicted as flat, with no attempt at spacial depth.
  • These artists believed that color and form in art should stir up emotions
  • Fauvist painters were generally optimistic and created bright, happy paintings
  • Many of the Fauvists were actually friends!
  • Shadows were often painted in a different color, not a darker shade of the original color
  • Fauvists led the way for a whole new freedom of expression in the art world

Matisse, Harmony in Red
Matisse, Sorrows of the King
Vlaminck, Restaurant de la Machine a Bougival
Vlaminck, Still Life with Apples
Derain, Boats at Collioure's Harbor
Derain, Charing Cross Bridge

Henri Matisse, on the role of art:
"What I am after, above all, is expression... I am unable to distinguish the feeling I have for life and my way of expressing it.... The chief aim of colour should be to serve expression as well as possible... What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker, be he businessman or writer, like an appeasing influence, a mental soother, something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue."

...doesn't that sound lovely?



Art critic Louis Vauxcelles was shocked! He called the group of artists "les fauves" or "Wild Beasts!" He actually meant this to be negative, but the artists found that it accurately described their technique and embraced their new title



The public was alo shocked when they saw the first exhibit of Fauvist painters. They were used to the softer tones of Impressionist paintings, which they generally preferred over the bolder style of the Post-Impressionists.

grrr wild beast!
Grr! Wild Beast!
I personally love the Fauvists because I love bright, bold colors. I love how they weren't afraid to use color straight from the tubes and paint objects in unnatural shades, even though that wasn't in fashion in the art world at the time. I love the confidence you can feel when looking at their works. It's like the artwork shouts "I think this tree should be red, not brown, so HA, I'll make it red!"
My favorites, however, have to be Matisse's cut paper works. I like the play between positive and negative space, which I cover more in depth within the next lesson about Henri Matisse.

(This feature will appear in every art style lesson. Watch Mrs G attempt the art style learned in today's lesson!)


ASSIGNMENT: Take a look at these two works by Fauvists artists Henri Matisse and Maurice de Vlaminck. In a paragraph consisting of a minimum of 5-8 sentences, please compare and contrast the two works. Refer to the works by title or artist, so I will know which one you are talking about.

It might be a good idea first to describe each painting separately. Then, tell me how they are similar- be sure to explain how they both fit into the Fauvist style. Use key points about the Fauvism style to back up your argument!

Matisse, Woman in Hat 1905
.Vlaminck, Portrait of a Woman 1905

This assignment is worth 20 points. To receive full credit, you need to use 5-8 sentences to compare AND contrast the two works. Be sure to tell me how they are similar AND different.

Sources: Giving credit where credit is due!
- Styles, Schools, and Movements by Amy Dempsey
- History of Modern Art by H.H. Arnason
- ...isms Understanding Art by Stephen Little
- LEARN MORE ABOUT FAUVISM BY VISITING ART STORY'S FABULOUS WEBSITE!: [ This link leaves and will open in a new window. PALCS assumes no responsibility for content on this external website. ]

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