This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Maurice de Vlaminck's paintings, drawings and ceramics being prepared by Maïthé Vallès-Bled and Godeliève de Vlaminck under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Painted in 1910, Fruits et fleurs is a rare picture dating from a pivotal moment in Maurice de Vlaminck's career, when he was able to combine the legacy of the Fauvism, that he had spearheaded, with the investigations of three-dimensional form that had been inspired to him by Paul Cézanne. The flashes of intense colour present in the vigorously-applied brushstrokes that have been used to depict the flowers recall the Fauve years, as well as the inspiration that Vlaminck had originally derived from Vincent van Gogh. At the same time, Fruits et fleurs was painted at the moment when Vlaminck was pushing the influence of Cézanne, whose works had been a watershed for him when he had seen the posthumous 1907 retrospective dedicated to the Master of Aix in 1907, to a bold new extreme. Where Van Gogh's example had allowed Vlaminck to unharness colour in his paintings, Cézanne appeared to permit new explorations of form. Vlaminck has taken these to a new level: with its tilting perspective and the prismatic background with its radiating diagonals, Fruits et fleurs clearly revels in a planarity that recalls Cézanne less than it does Vlaminck's contemporaries in Paris, the Cubists. Using a similar visual arsenal to that embraced during the same period by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Vlaminck has here introduced a sense of three-dimensional space and of dynamism to this picture.
Fruits et fleurs is one of the paintings that reveals the extent to which Vlaminck was in the orbit of Cubism during the years of its inception. Shortly after this work was painted, he would pull back from the developments that had been pioneered concurrently by artists such as Picasso and Braque, in part because he felt that the increasingly codified systems that they used were a distortion too far, and were far too rooted in formulae rather than in the passionate realm of painting, of picture making. This work shows Vlaminck walking a similar path to Braque and Picasso at that dawn of Cubism, taking, as they had, the legacy of Cézanne to its natural limits and beyond, exploring the entire nature of representation. However, unlike the pictures of the Cubists, Vlaminck has refused to embrace the earthen palette that they came increasingly to use. Instead, he has clearly retained his love of colour, evidenced in the petals of the flowers, in the fruit, and even in the haze of the planes that form the background of this picture.