Charles Camoin, a French born artist, enjoyed a successful career that encompassed the end of the nineteenth century and ventured well into the twentieth. Under the tutelage of Gustave Moreau, he worked in a variety of genres, including landscape, portraiture, still life, the nude, and seascapes, and was considered a practitioner of both the Post-impressionist and the Fauvist styles. Clearly a man of varied and expansive talent and interest, he started his career painting street scenes and images of the cabarets. It was through Gustave Moreau’s studio, however, that he was later introduced to and eventually formed friendships with Manguin and Rouault and especially with Jean Puy and Matisse, with whom he maintained close correspondence. It was this group of artists that was to be at the forefront of Fauvism, and it was Camoin’s associations with them that prompted his own introduction to the style.
In 1900, Camoin began military service that brought him to Arles, where he painted in the style of Van Gogh, and later to Aix in 1902, where he frequently saw Cézanne and adopted many of his stylistic techniques. It was also Cezanne that introduced Camoin to Monet at his home in Giverny.
With a strong network of artists surrounding him, and a quickly blossoming future, Camoin exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Artistes Independants in 1903, and by 1904 had his first solo exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Berthe Weill. In 1905, Camoin took part in the “cage aux fauves” at the Salon d’Automne, exhibiting alongside artists such as Matisse and Derian. The following ten years consisted of a number of excursions to London, Frankfurt, Italy, Naples, Capri, Tangiers, and to Morocco with Matisse. Camoin exhibited regularly at the Salons and at galleries, and was honored with three retrospective exhibitions in both France and the United States. The year 1913 marked his participation in the historic Armory Show in New York City. In the 1950s, he was received at the Biennale, was made an officer of the Legion d’Honneur, and was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Maintaining two studios, one in Montmartre, and one in St. Tropez, Camoin devoted the former to painting still life, nudes, and portraits, and employed the latter for painting views of the harbor, walkways, and landscapes he could see out his studio window. As a young artist, his oeuvre was characterized by vigorous facture, generosity of paint, and lively colors, all denoting the provincial tradition.
After his trips with Marquet and Matisse however, Camoin’s work evolved, favoring a subordination of color to light. As an artist he never fully adhered to the style of Fauvism or Postimpressionism, but rather seemed to have balanced between the two, often relying on their theories rather than their mandates of technique. Following his death in 1965, in Paris, Camoin was represented in a large Fauvist exhibition that traveled to Tokyo, Paris, Munich, and Malines. His work was also exhibited in several posthumous solo shows in his birth town of Marseille as well as in Nice.