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: Catalogue: Maurice de Vlaminck's The Blue House


Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Maurice de Vlaminck undoubtedly felt a particularly personal affinity for the Fauve style. A rough, muscular man with anarchist leanings, he had at one time been a professional bicycle racer. He seems to have been proud of his uncouthness and lack of discipline. Yet he shared a studio at Chatou, outside Paris, with Derain and through him met Matisse. Vlaminck's personality responded deeply to the Fauve style then emerging in the work of Matisse and Derain. Another contributing influence was van Gogh whose work Vlaminck saw for the first time at the great Paris retrospective of 1901. Typically, Vlaminck saw van Gogh as an adversary to be surpassed.To Vlaminck, “the Fauve style was not an innovation, an attitude, but a manner of being, of acting, of thinking, of breathing,”1 in short, a way of life. He was the most violent of the Fauves; but, in spite of his contempt for intellectual control, he achieved, perhaps unconsciously, a balance between purpose and expression. Unlike the other members of the Fauve movement, he continued to explore its ramifications until his death.The Blue House was painted in the year of the famous Salon d'Automne where the Fauves first received public attention, and derision. The influence of van Gogh can be seen in the strength of the color and in its vigorous application. The bold, vibrating, pure colors have no necessary relationship to reality. Differences of light are indicated by the use of different colors, often on the same object. Like Gauguin, Vlaminck used pure colors straight from the tube. Although both Vlaminck and Derain were Fauves and shared the same studio, their difference in temperament—both artistic and personal—is immediately apparent when Vlaminck's violent, turbulent Blue House is compared with Derain's relatively mild and gay St. Paul's from the Thames of the same period. Significant too is the fact that, while Derain introduced Vlaminck to Matisse, Vlaminck introduced Derain to primitive art.Endnotes
  1. John Rewald, Les Fauves, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1952, p. 12.
Referenced Work of Art
  1. Maurice de Vlaminck, French, 1876-1958. The Blue House, 1906 (La Maison bleue) (House in the Country). Oil on Canvas, 21 1/2” x 25 1/2”. Signed lower left: Vlaminck. Accession 61.36.17.CollectionsSidney Janis Gallery, New York; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 13 December, 1950; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ExhibitedParis, Galerie Charpentier, Autour 1900, 1950
    New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, November-December, 1950
    New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Les Fauves, 8 October, 1952-4 January, 1953. Subsequently exhibited at: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 21 January-22 February, 1953; The San Francisco Museum of Art, 13 March-12 April, 1953; The Art Gallery of Toronto, 1 May-31 May, 1953.
    The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1953.ReferencesMarcel Sauvage, Vlaminck, sa vie et son message, Geneva, Pierre Callier, 1956, ill. 27.
    Maurice Raynal, Modern Painting, Geneva, Skira, 1956, ill. 79.
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Source: Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III, "Catalogue: Maurice de Vlaminck's The Blue Horse," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 50, no. 4 (December, 1961): 26-27.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009