C'est Donatello dans la cage aux fauves!
— Louis Vauxcelles, Salon d'Automne, 1905.
C'est donc sous la conduite de Matisse, et aussi sous l'influence de Van Gogh que les futurs fauves, Vlaminck, Friesz, Derain, Manguin, expriment dans leurs envois au Salon d'Automne un farouche et virulent enthousiasme pour les joies dynamiques des tons les plus crus.
— M. Raynal, Peinture moderne.
Le fauvisme pour Matisse, c'est l'accentuation décisive d'un type de rapport à la couleur qu'il s'emploiera à cultiver: le nerf du système.
— Marcelin PLEYNET, Système de la peinture.
Fauvism, French Fauvisme, style of painting that flourished in France from 1898 to 1908; it used pure, brilliant colour, 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 annual Salon d'Automne; 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, who had arrived at the Fauve style after careful, critical study of the masters of Postimpressionism Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. Matisse's methodical studies led him to reject traditional renderings of three-dimensional space and to seek instead a new picture space defined by movement of colour. Matisse exhibited his famous «Woman with the Hat» (Walter A. Haas Collection, San Francisco) at the 1905 exhibition; brisk strokes of colour--blues, greens, and reds--form an energetic, expressive view of the woman. As always in Matisse's Fauve style, his painting is ruled by his intuitive sense of formal order.
Other members of the group included two painters from Chatou, Fr., André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, who, together with Matisse, formed the nucleus of the Fauves. Derain's Fauve paintings translate every tone of a landscape into pure colour, applied with short, forceful brushstrokes. The agitated swirls of intense colour in Vlaminck's works are indebted to the expressive power of van Gogh. Three young painters from Le Havre were also attracted to Fauvism by the strong personality of Matisse. Othon Friesz found the emotional connotations of the bright Fauve colours a relief from the mediocre Impressionism he practiced; his companion Raoul Dufy developed a rather carefree ornamental version of the bold style that suited his own personal aesthetic nature; and Georges Braque created a definite sense of rhythm and structure out of small spots of colour, foreshadowing his development of Cubism. Albert Marquet, Matisse's fellow student at the École des Beaux-Arts in the 1890s, also participated in Fauvism, as did the Dutchman Kees van Dongen, who applied the style to depictions of the fashionable society of Paris. Other painters associated with the Fauves were Georges Rouault, Henri Manguin, Charles Camoin, and Jean Puy.
Fauvism was for most of these artists a transitional, learning stage. By 1908 a revived interest in Paul Cézanne's vision of the order and structure of nature had led them to reject the turbulent emotionalism of Fauvism in favour of the logic of Cubism. Matisse alone pursued the course he had pioneered, achieving a sophisticated balance between his own emotions and the world he painted.