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Indepth Arts News:

"Andre Derain. An Outsider in French Art"
2007-02-11 until 2007-05-13
Statens Museum of Art, Denmark's National Gallery
Copenhagen, , DK

Andre Derain (1880-1954), like his close colleagues Matisse and Picasso, is among the artists who carried out the most uncompromising reinvention of the art of painting during the first half of the 20th century. Delegated to the back stalls of art history for decades, Derain's life's work is now unfurled in its full glory. In the spring of 2007, Statens Museum for Kunst will be one of the first museums in the world to present a large retrospective exhibition about this controversial and epoch-making master painter who fell out of favour in his own time. In addition to a number of Derain's important works from the museum's own collection, museums such as the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York have contributed significant loans to the exhibition, which shows a total of 85 works.

From the shocking start to the late experiments The starting point of the exhibition is the years surrounding André Derain's breakthrough in 1905, a year which became a milestone in recent art history. This was the year when Derain and his friend Matisse caused a stir with their new invention: Fauvism. Their bold liberation of colour on the canvas and highly insistent accentuation of the painterly aspect of their art marked a prominent break with their audience's expectations of art. Initially viewed as wild barbarism by shocked contemporaries, their work came to serve as a crucial example and source of inspiration to subsequent generations of artists.

During the 1920s, Derain became one of the most celebrated and acclaimed artists of the day, with sales exceeding those of Matisse. But Derain did not rest on his laurels. Curiosity, doubts, and an almost chronic tendency towards self-criticism prompted him to seek out new artistic avenues. Presenting a range of unique works, this exhibition shows Derain's later movement towards a more classically oriented mode of expression. Compared to the earlier works, these pieces are characterised by subject matter with a more sculptural feel and a more restrained palette. However, their unfailingly original feel serves to complete the image of Derain as an uncompromising and unique figure within French art.

Out of favour

Unlike the responses to Picasso's similar changes of heart, Derain's changing styles and constant artistic search was met with mistrust by his contemporaries - a scepticism which continued into posterity, certainly among some. One of the reasons is that during World War II, Derain accepted an invitation from Nazi Germany, hoping to speak on behalf of his fellow artists in Germany. A naive decision - and one which proved disastrous. Derain fell out of favour and withdrew to lead a solitary existence. Only in recent years have we seen an international resurgence of interest in his art.

The exhibition "André Derain. An Outsider in French Art" was created in co-operation with the Deputy Director of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Isabelle Monod-Fontaine, who is one of the world's pre-eminent experts on early French modernism.

The exhibition coincides with Statens Museum for Kunst's publication of a large, lavishly illustrated book about Derain. The list of contributors includes Isabelle Monod-Fontaine.

The exhibition is donated by the Oticon Foundation

André Derain (1880 - 1954)
Woman in a Chemise
Statens Museum for Kunst
Oil on canvas

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