Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)


Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
signed 'Vlaminck' (lower left)
oil on canvas
35 x 45 ¾ in. (88.8 x 116.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1908-1910
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (1910).
Dahmen-Lilienfeld Galleries, New York.
Private collection, New York (by descent from the above).
Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York (1994).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

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Sarah El-Tamer
Sarah El-Tamer

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Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Maurice de Vlaminck Digital Database, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

By 1907 and following on from the coloristic exuberances of the previous two years, Vlaminck found himself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Fauve experiment. His natural predilection for a sense of spatial structure and legibility led him to adopt a more structured approach to his compositions. He wrote, "Working directly in this way, tube against canvas, one quickly arrives at an excessive facility. One ends in transposing mathematically. The emerald green becomes black, the pink flaming red, etc. Winning numbers come up at every draw and immediate success becomes an impasse. Preoccupied with light I neglected the object...either you think nature or you think light" (M. de Vlaminck, Dangerous Corner, London, 1961, p. 15).
A way forward was offered by the work of Paul Cézanne exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1907. It devoted two rooms to a retrospective of Cézanne's work and while Vlaminck, through his association with Vollard, can hardly have been ignorant of Cézanne up to that point, the impact of such a large-scale exhibition was to be profound. Vlaminck primarily absorbed Cézanne's lessons on building form through careful planar construction; the bold recession and sustained tension of the present work owes an obvious debt to the "ordered sensations" of Cézanne and offered Vlaminck a convincing alternative to the perceived formlessness of Fauve landscapes. Furthermore, the dynamic brushwork and increasingly naturalistic use of blues, greens and ochres, that was to characterize his work for the following years, also recalls Cézanne's palette.
In the present painting, Vlaminck has mastered this next stage of his artistic trajectory. Even before the major Cézanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne, where Vlaminck himself had been a recent exhibitor, his fellow fauves Henri Matisse and André Derain had turned to Cézanne, as of course had Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, but in a mode against which Vlaminck later reacted strongly. Maurice Denis captured this regard for the deceased master in his review of the retrospective: “It is understood that Cézanne is a kind of classic and that the younger generation considers him a representative of classicism” (J.D. Herbert, Fauve Painting, The Making of Cultural Politics, 1992, p. 152).
For the next six years, Vlaminck explored Cézanne’s fusion of post-Renaissance convention, perspectival subversion and liberating brushwork. During that transitional period, he placed himself among those who intended to convey longstanding and hard-won pictorial structures into the emerging forms of modernity. This moment in Vlaminck’s work is a fascinating one, when he travels alongside a master of order while retaining the spontaneous painterly freedom he’d acquired as a fauve.

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