Maurice de Vlaminck's Famous Artworks
“Barges on the Seine,” 1905-06
“The River Seine at Chatou,”1906
“Town on the Bank of a Lake,” 1909
Maurice de Vlaminck was a French artist, musician, and writer best known for his association with Fauvism. A Renaissance man with a fiercely bohemian lifestyle and outlook, he was driven by his own artistic vision without assigning much weight to the conventions and fads of the era. Maurice de Vlaminck has exhibited his works at many galleries
Maurice de Vlaminck's Early Life
Maurice de Vlaminck was born to musicians parents in Paris in April 1876. His mother Josephine Grillet was a skilled pianist; his father Edmond was a tenor who also played violin and keys. The artist was raised in a musical household, learning to play various instruments from an early age – most notably the violin and double bass. The increasing expense of living in the capital forced the family to the first move to Vesinet in 1879 and then to Chatou on the Seine, where Vlaminck spent most of his childhood.
In his early teens, Vlaminck began financially contributing towards household expenses by teaching violin to students and occasionally playing in café concerts and cabarets. He got little formal education but the young artist was intellectually curious and known for his broad interests. He trained as a racing cyclist for a time and supplemented his income by working as a mechanic, laborer, wrestler and billiards player.
Maurice de Vlaminck's Meeting the Fauves
Apart from some early suggestions on drawing from Robichon (a member of the Société des Artistes Français) and Henri Rigal, Vlaminck received no substantial training in the field of art. He was entirely self-taught, learning from observation and visiting galleries
on the Rue Laffitte. It was a chance meeting with an aspiring artist that introduced him to the idea of painting professionally.
While serving his obligatory three-year military requirement, Vlaminck met Andre Derain, when a train both men were traveling on derailed. A lifelong friendship and collaborative relationship ensued, and after being discharged from the army in 1900, Vlaminck moved into a dilapidated studio at the Maison Levanneur with Derain. As struggling artists, the duo collaborated on a series of pornographic novels, while Vlaminck continued giving music lessons and performing in bands at night. Derain and Vlaminck spent much of their time studying, painting and theorizing on the banks of the Seine, idling about in yachts and rowboats. Their life of carefree self-indulgence is reflected in Maurice de Vlaminck's earlier paintings.
A year into their living together, the two artists visited a Vincent van Gogh exhibition in Paris, which proved to be a turning point for both. Vlaminck was struck by van Gogh’s powerful brushwork and vivid, unnatural color use. Henri Matisse was present at the same show and his own work using bold, undiluted color impressed and inspired Vlaminck to adopt a similar style of his own. He began experimenting with colors drawn straight from the tube and applied onto the canvas in thick patterns. He held his first exhibition at the Berthe Weill in 1904, followed by a show at the Salon des Indépendants the next year. The same year, Vlaminck exhibited as part of a group show with Derain, Matisse, Georges Rouault, Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, Charles Camoin, Jean Puy and Othon Friesz at the Salon d’Automne. This event was the birth of the Fauvist movement. The radical style of these ‘les fauves’ or ‘wild beasts’ was met with interest and enthusiasm, and soon the art dealer Ambroise Vollard organized Vlaminck’s first solo exhibition and went on to acquire his entire collection.
However, Vlaminck never adhered to any one movement or idiom, and his Fauvist phase eased after he saw a retrospective of the work of Paul Cezanne in 1907. He was clearly impressed by the older master’s brushwork and his attention to natural light. He adopted Cezanne’s technique of diagonal brushstrokes and a more subdued palette, working on compositions of landscapes and solid form. He ventured towards Cubist elements for a period, though he claimed to despise the style for its overly intellectual theory.
Maurice de Vlaminck's life post war
After World War I, Vlaminck established a studio in Paris while he prepared for his next show that would take place at Druet in 1919. The exhibition was successful enough for him to buy a house in Valmondois and settle into countryside living to fully develop his own style. He concentrated on landscapes of wild, stormy skies and was fascinated by the effect of speed upon vision. The country roads of Ile-de-France and Perche frequently appear in his compositions, bathed in the dramatic lyricism of Expressionism.
Although Vlaminck is best known for his Fauvist paintings, many of his best works are in watercolor and gouache. His work as a draughtsman, wood-carver and lithographer are less celebrated but fine examples of the versatility of his technique. Maurice De Vlaminck died in Rueil-la-Gadelière on October 11, 1958. You can buy Maurice de Vlaminck's paintings online
Maurice de Vlaminck's Major Exhibitions
1904 - Berthe Weill, Paris
1905 - Salon des Indépendants, Paris
1905 - Salon d’Automne, Paris
2013 - The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
2015 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Maurice de Vlaminck's Museums/Collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
“Maurice de Vlaminck” by Robert Rey
“Vlaminck” by Jean Selz and Graham Snell
“Maurice de Vlaminck” by Daniel Henry