“Fauvist,” a name derived from the French for “wild beast”, is used to describe an informal and loosely-knit group of artists who worked during the Turn-of-the-Century. The leader of this group was Henri Matisse, and the group included (to mention just a few) Braque, Dufy, Vlaminck, and Derain. The Fauves were most interested in the artist’s spontaneous and emotional response to his subject matter, and they expressed this personal response through wild unstructured brushwork and brilliant garish colors, which were selected for their emotional impact. Fauvism was short-lived and many of its artists soon moved on to experiment with other styles; Braque, for example, went on to develop Cubism. Thus Fauvism could be considered more of an experimental training ground for many of the famous artists of modern art.
So what did the Fauves contribute to modern art? For one, they were one of the first groups to firmly break with Impressionism, an action that encouraged artists to break free from the strictures of former styles. Also, their unbridled use of color to express emotion was like nothing ever seen before. Personally, I see Fauvism as one of the first major rebellions against any effort to create an observable reality. In the past, Academic painters strove greatly to create a sense of 3-dimensional reality even in their most fantastic pieces. The Realists, in spite of their comparatively flattened spaces, still captured a strong semblance of the world around us, and the Impressionists attempted to observe and portray the fleeting nature of light and color effects. I think this dramatic shift of emphasis from observable reality to more abstracted personal expression opened many doors to future Modern Art styles as artists increasingly started to experiment with abstraction. – Calla Bilhorn
Under the Trees I (1906) by Andre Lhote (1885-1962)