Where Does It Come From 

Fauvism is an art movement that originated in France back in the 20th century and was characterized by bright colors and prominent, bold brushstrokes as opposed to traditional and subtle forms of painting that were introduced through Impressionism. Fauvist art was symbolist and depicted bright landscapes and figure paintings, often using paint straight out of the tube, making the work appear quite abstract.

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“We were always intoxicated with colour, with words that speak of colour, and with the sun that makes colours live.”

― André Derain

Impact on Art 

Fauvism is considered to be one of the very first Avant-Garde movements in art that helped artists practice individual expression. Instead of depicting reality as it was, Fauvism emphasized the artist’s response to nature and the world which was then portrayed through saturated colors that projected the artist’s mood, rather than striving to be an accurate representation of the natural world. Some of the most important artists of this time were Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Albert Marquet, all of whom came to be known for their expressive visual language. The Fauves were a little more traditional than the Impressionists since their subject matter largely revolved around portraits, landscapes, and seascapes. But the kind of colors and composition they used to portray these traditional scenes was what set them apart.

“From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.”

― Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse. Woman with a Hat, 1905. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

“I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.”

― Henri Matisse

Impact on Literature

Fauvism also went on to impact literature, helping writers expand their forms of expression and play with the imagery they created through words. Literary Fauvism introduced imagery that tapped the senses and evoked physical emotions within the reader. Fauvist writers focused on aesthetics and sentimentality, rather than trying to portray reality as it was. The meaning the reader derived from their words was different each time, based on their own cultural and social perceptions. This way, Fauvism in literature made way for multiple new meanings to arise out of one text.

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Impact on Fashion

Fauves had a tendency to distort form and color to express their emotions and give the viewer a window into their minds. Fauvism had a huge impact on fashion and helped designers embrace vivid colors, bold patterns, and unusual silhouettes. Robert Delauney was one of the most famous artists to have experimented with Fauvism and his wife Sonia used the art form and applied it to textile and fashion design, creating avant-garde art pieces that could be worn, inspiring modern designers such as Barbara Tfank and Lanvin to get playful with their color palettes.

Robert Delaunay, 1906, L’homme à la tulipe (Portrait de Jean Metzinger), oil on canvas, 72.4 x 48.5 cm.
André Derain, 1906, Charing Cross Bridge, London, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

“It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.”

― Paul Gauguin

Impact on the World

While Fauvism itself was a short-lived art movement, it inspired several other movements, with German Expressionism being the most notable one. Fauvism was a movement to break the barriers of the mind and allow artists all over the world to be free in their expression of the world. Fauvism marked a radical change, breaking away from traditional boundaries and challenging the very meaning of art. Focusing on the importance of colors and how they can be used to depict an artist’s perception, Fauvism allowed artists to embrace new forms of expression. All in all, Fauvism helped the world move away from capturing reality as it is, but rather portraying the kind of multi-layered lives that we all live.

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