Definitely the artistic career of André Derain (1880 – 1954) is as disconcerting as it is captivating. To begin with, because he worked in different artistic disciplines such as sculpture or drawing. Although the highest levels of creativity and recognition of him were reached in painting, and here too he developed styles and forms that at times may even seem contradictory to us.
Black with Derain Mandolin
The same plays with colors in a fauvist way in works like Boats in the port of Collioure, which may seem to us to be a follower of pointillismin paintings like Waterloo Bridge. But he also always had the history of painting very much in mind and made numerous tributes to great masters of previous generations. This Black Mandolin is a good example.
The immediate reference for this 1930 image on display at the Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris is Manet and Spanish painting. It is a type of painting that some of his contemporaries rejected without objection, such asWlaminckwho went so far as to say that Derain “painted for the antiquarians of Versailles”. And the truth is that this turn in his painting had many detractors at the time. Although, it also had the favor of certain critics and relevant figures of French culture.
However, that evolution was a logical process for him. AfterHaving been one of the greatest representatives of Fauvism and of the first avant-gardes, he came to the conclusion that he did not want to be a painter of his time, but of all time. And for that he turned his gaze towards tradition, and more towards museums than art galleries.
A look that led him to go through very varied forms, from lengthening the bodies in the Mannerist style or giving them a Gothic expression to being inspired by forms as curious as the Roman paintings of Pompeii , Byzantine icons or black art. In addition to venerating well-known artists such as Rafael, Caravaggio, Poussin or Corot.
With such a unique mixture he goes his own way. He does not limit himself to copying, as he was once accused. They are paintings with an ancient air but at the same time with a modern invoice. He does not seek to be a scholar of art history or to make a perfect painting, in fact he commits certain imperfections to bring his art to life. And of course with forms and ideas from the past he creates images with the personality of André Derain, as manifested in this curious symphony of brown, white and ocher colors played byNegro con la mandolin.