Full Artist Bio

A native Parisian, Maurice de Vlaminck was born into a musical family, and achieved a high standard in playing the violin and double-bass. He spent his childhood immersing himself with music, in both Paris and Le Vésinet and later in Chatou on the Seine.

When did Maurice de Vlaminck start painting?

In 1892, Vlaminick bought his first racing bicycle, planning to make a living as a professional racing cyclist. However, in 1893 he was suddenly inspired to paint and took drawing lessons from Henri Regal. A year later, the artist married Suzanne Berly and became a racing cyclist to support his family, though his career as a cyclist ended in 1896 after contracting typhoid fever. He began his military service in Brittany in the same year.

The turning point in his life was meeting the young artist André Derain who supported Vlaminck’s creative ambitions. Both painters set up a studio together in 1900 on the Île de Chatou, which was later recognised as the birthplace of the Fauve movement. This was when Vlaminck discovered he could write, and he went to publish a number of novels, several of which were illustrated by Derain.

Who influenced Maurice de Vlaminck?

At a Van Gogh exhibition in 1900, Derain introduced Vlaminck to Henri Matisse, but it was the exuberant paint application and vibrant use of colour displayed in Van Gogh’s paintings that inspired Vlaminck the most. He poured this new inspiration into his work.

Vlaminck did not study art, and he was proud of not having had academic training in the field. Instead, ‘primitive’ artefacts from Africa and elsewhere at the Paris Trocadéro (today part of the Musée de l’Homme) excited him as works of art, an interest he shared with Matisse and Picasso.

What sort of art did Maurice de Vlaminck produce?

Violent and sharp colours reflected the new insecure art, a mirror of modern man’s instability and a desperate search for a novel ideal in painting and life. It was Fauvism (of which Vlaminck was an integral part) that was perhaps one of the most radical and impatient movements to complete the transformation of painting, and to arrive at a simpler and more direct way of expression.

Fauvism, deriving from Fauves, literally translated into ‘wild beasts’, was a modern art movement that emphasised the use of bold colours over realism. Wild brush strokes, raucous and sometimes fantastical hues, and a high degree of abstraction, characterised the style. It is close to Expressionism in nature, and, despite the movement’s brevity, it opened the doors to many of the other influential movements of the 20th century — for example, Cubism.

In addition to painting, Vlaminck produced some fine lithographs, etchings and woodcuts, and authored and illustrated a number of books.

Where did Maurice de Vlaminck exhibit his art?

In 1904, Vlaminck exhibited his work for the first time at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris, followed by an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905. In the same year, he was included in the Cage aux Fauves at the notorious Salon d’Automne art exhibition, in the company of Matisse, Derain, Roualt, Manguin and others.

During the Fauve years, Vlaminck stayed mostly in Chatou, exhibiting with the other Fauves. After 1908, he was more and more influenced by Paul Cézanne’s work, harmonising his compositions, simplifying form, and leaning briefly towards Cubism. Acting on a suggestion of the art dealer Ambrose Vollard, Vlaminck made his first trip to London in 1911 to paint along the Thames.

The Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition in London and the Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich included his work, both taking place in 1912.

Post-War

Maurice de Vlaminck served in World War I in the French reserves, during which he began writing poetry. After the war ended he settled in Rueil-la-Gadelière with his second wife, Berthe Combes. He travelled extensively in France, even though the majority of his work was painted around Paris.

Increasing interest in his work prompted his art to be displayed at numerous exhibitions, with an exhibit devoted to the Fauves at Druet in 1919 including many of his paintings.

What were Vlaminck’s later works like?

Vlaminck bought a house in Valmondois, and, from 1917, he painted canvases that summarised his whole way of seeing. They show his favourite subjects under a violet light: a road, a few houses, trees tossed in the wind. The same country roads appear repeatedly in his paintings, executed in Île-de-France and later in the Perche region.

He consistently accentuated their lyrical character, loading his skies with the threat of a storm or a tempest. It is in its dramatic representation of nature that Vlaminck’s painting of the period can be characterised as landscape Expressionism, evident also in its equally vehement use of gouache and watercolour.

Vlaminick’s late work is dominated by colourful and brooding still-life images and landscapes. His palette became darker, punctuated by contrasting strokes charged with pure emotions.

He continued to travel with Derain during the later years of his life and published dozens of autobiographical accounts of his experiences with other artists. Maurice de Vlaminck died on the 11th of October 1958, aged 82.

What is Maurice de Vlaminck’s legacy?

The interest in Vlaminck’s work has not diminished to this day, and most leading museums and galleries in the world pride themselves in including his work in their collection, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate in London.

His bold paintings are renowned for their striking features, and each of his works are pieces of art history beyond their mesmerising beauty due to the importance of the artist.

If you’re interested in owning a Maurice de Vlaminck painting, Willow Gallery has a few artworks available for sale.