Key Dates: 1905-1908
The first of the major avant-garde movements in European 20th century art, Fauvism was characterised by paintings that used intensely vivid, non-naturalistic and exuberant colours.
The style was essentially expressionist, and generally featured landscapes in which forms were distorted. The Fauves first exhibited together in 1905 in Paris. They found their name when a critic pointed to a renaissance-like sculpture in the middle of the same gallery as the exhibition and exclaimed derisively ‘Donatello au milieu des fauves!’ (‘Donatello among the wild beasts!’). The name caught on, and was gleefully accepted by the artists themselves.
The movement was subjected to more mockery and abuse as it developed, but began to gain respect when major art buyers, such as Gertrude Stein, took an interest. The leading artists involved were Matisse, Rouault, Derain, Vlaminck, Braque and Dufy. Although short-lived (1905-8), Fauvism was extremely influential in the evolution of 20th century art.