What Is Fauvism?

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Fauvism was the first avant-garde art movement developed in the 20th century, and it was spearheaded by the French painter Henri Matisse, who was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. Experience the fauvist point of view with information from an art historian, critic and curator in this free video on art.

Part of the Video Series: Modern Art History
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Dr. Betty Brown and the topic of the moment is Fauvism. Fauvism which literally translates as wild beast ism is technically the first avant garde art movement developed in the twentieth century. And it was spearheaded by the French painter Henri Matisse. Matisse was inspired by the incredible advances of Vincent Van Gogh in the nineteenth century and what Van Gogh did, his unique offering was a way of impassioning the artwork by intensifying the color and distorting the form so that it was emotionally laden, fraught with feeling. Matisse just took that and ran with it. And by 1905, he had done paintings say of his wife with a green stripe down the middle of Madame Matisse's face. Now she never had a green stripe down the middle of her face but Matisse painted her that way to intensify the optical impression of that portrait. An art critic walked into the gallery that Matisse's painting was in and looked around and saw the artworks by Matisse and his friends and saw in the middle of the gallery a paint, excuse me a sculpture by a Renaissance Master. And he said wow that's the sculpture by a Renaissance Master surrounded by the work of some wild beasts. And he meant it as a really negative criticism but the term wild beast stuck. And Matisse and his cohorts have been known as the Fauve Artists ever since.

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