Fauvism, French Fauvisme, was a style of painting that flourished in France from 1898 to 1908 and used pure, brilliant color, applied straight from the paint tubes in an aggressive, direct manner to create a sense of an explosion on the canvas. The Fauves painted directly from nature as the Impressionists had before them, but their works were invested with a strong expressive reaction to the subjects they painted. First formally exhibited in Paris in 1905, Fauvist paintings shocked visitors to the Salon d'Automne, an annual show that had been controversial at its start because there already existed many traditional art exhibitions, but later it was to become very fashionable. One of these visitors was the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who, because of the violence of their works, dubbed the painters "Les Fauves" (Wild Beasts). The leader of the group was Henri Matisse. Not to be confused with parallel art movements such as Post-Impressionism, German Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism, the salient tenets that engender Fauvism are the construction of space with bright color, vigorous brushwork, planar configurations, and the simplification of form.
The first important American artist to be directly involved in theSalon d'Automne of 1905 was Alfred H. Maurer (1868-1932), a frequent visitor to the Gertrude and Leo Stein household in Paris. His extraordinary "Fauve Nude" was executed in 1906 shortly after the revolutionary 1905 Salon. This female nude with its brilliant coloration and slashing brushwork is typical of the Fauves and is reminiscent in its painterly handling to Matisse's "Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Line)" created in 1905. "Fauve Nude" is a pivotal work for Maurer as it reveals the artist's unequivocal abandonment of his earlier style of painting in the vein of William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) for the expressiveness of Matisse. The work is significant as an example of one of the first...
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