Born on April 4, 1876 in Paris, France, Maurice de Vlaminck was a self-taught artist who proudly shunned academic training, aside from drawing lessons. He pursued painting as a hobby until he met the painter André Derain in 1900 during a train accident, and the two shared a studio from 1900 to 1901. In 1901 Vlaminck saw an exhibition of the paintings of the Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh, and like Derain and many other young artists, he was struck by van Gogh’s powerful brushwork and use of intense, nonnaturalistic colors. That same year, Derain introduced Vlaminck to Henri Matisse. Vlaminck was soon experimenting with pure, intense color drawn straight from the tube and applied in thick daubs.
Maurice de Vlaminck exhibited with Matisse and Derain in 1905 at the Salon des Indépendants and at the controversial group show at the Salon d’Automne. It was at the latter exhibition that the critic Louis Vauxcelles called these artists fauves (“wild beasts”); he considered their canvases of bold color, applied in a spontaneous and impulsive manner, too unrefined.
Impressed by a retrospective exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s paintings in 1907, Vlaminck began to emulate the Post-Impressionist artist’s work. He adopted a more subdued palette and turned to painting landscapes with solid compositions. After World War I he left Paris and moved to the countryside, where he painted rural scenes in a dramatic yet mannered style. Vlaminck also continued to write poetry, fiction, and memoirs, and he illustrated a number of books. Whether landscapes or portraiture, the liberal application of paint in bold colors was an enduring feature of de Vlaminck’s practice. He died on October 11, 1958 in Rueil-la- Gadelière, France at the age of 82.