Opening on July 8, 2018, “Fauvism to Fascism” at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) explores the little-known connection between Modern Art and totalitarianism through a selection the work of the French Fauves — Maurice de Vlaminck (1876–1958) and Andre Derain (1880–1954). The intimately scaled and timely exhibition highlights in its backdrop the tumultuous period between the two World Wars.
The Fauves were dubbed by contemporary critics as the work of “Wild Beasts” (in French Fauves). “Their paintings,” the museum writes, “were considered the cutting-edge art of the most experimental kind at the dawn of the last century. Liberated from the literal view of what the eye sees, these works embraced color as a means of creating a sensuous experience.”
Fauvism was characterized by the use of strident hues applied with gestural brush marks for expressive rather than descriptive ends, derisively described by contemporary critics as the work of “Wild Beasts” in French Fauves.
“Vlaminck’s painting ‘The Bridge from 1912,’ with its Cezanne-inspired palette of blues reflects the ambitious young artist’s rapid assimilation of the most daring art of his generation: from Henri Matisse’s and Derain’s Fauvist experiments with flagrantly non-descriptive color and brash distortions, wielded for expressive ends, to Paul Cezanne’s more subdued and disciplined ‘constructivist’ patches of cooler tones,” writes SBMA.
However, Maurice de Vlaminck and Andre Derain chose to abandon this affiliation, embarking on divergent stylistic paths that caught the attention and eventually support of the arts administration under the Third Reich. Through a selection of drawings and paintings from the permanent collection, this exhibition explores the way the representation of the human body, both in avant-garde terms, and then, as recontextualized by 1930s National Socialism in Germany, resulted in the co-opting of a modernist idiom to advance the political agenda of the Nazis — an association that still sullies the critical reception of both of these artists.
The exhibition will be on view from July 8, 2018, through November 11, 2018, at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA.
Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.
Founder: Louise Blouin