Derain initially studied for the entrance exam for the École Centrale d'ingénieurs (college of engineering). He finally decided to devote himself completely to painting and his first guidance came from Jacomin, a local painter who had known Cézanne. He attended the Académie Carrière from 1896 to 1898, where he met Matisse. In 1901, one or two years before he left for military service, he formed a close friendship with Vlaminck. Soon the two began to work together in a wooden cabin near the bridge in Chatou, which they shared as a studio. They also socialised with the boaters on the banks of the Seine in the open-air cafés and at the Fournaise restaurant where frequently by the Impressionists and Guy de Maupassant used to go. Around this time their work was becoming known as the School of Chatou. After military service Derain, who had illustrated two books by Vlaminck, did not renew his association with the School of Chatou, nor with Vlaminck. Instead, he enrolled at the Académie Julian, which shocked Vlaminck who believed that painters should rely on instinct alone in their work. Derain began to copy works in the Louvre, such as Carrying the Cross by Ghirlandaio and left Chatou and for Montmartre where his studio was in Rue Tourlaque. He spent the summer of 1905 in Collioure with Matisse. The Salon d'Automne of tha same year marked the birth of Fauvism. Ambroise Vollard, who supported Derain, advised him to spend time in London, which he did in 1905 and 1906, bringing back some of the most significant paintings from his Fauvist period. Derain also became acquainted with Georges Braque and went with him to l'Estaque in 1906, and with Picasso with whom he travelled to Cadaquès in 1910. When World War I broke out Derain was with Braque and Picasso in Montfavet. He served as an artilleryman in Champagne and the Somme. At the end of hostilities he went to Paris, and then to Rome in 1921 and spent many summers in the Provence region in the south of France between 1921 and 1933. He settled eventually in Chambourcy in 1935 and died there in 1954.
Derain's early works were in the style of the School of Chatou. Derain and Vlaminck, the only two exponents of it, painted with broad splashes of pure colour without shadows or backgrounds, after they became acquainted with Van Gogh's work in 1901, and used the punctuated, isolated strokes of the Neo-Impressionists. They were the precursors of Fauvism and were soon joined by Matisse, Friesz, Braque, Van Dongen, Rouault, Camoin and a few more. Fauvism got its name when the critic Louis Vauxcelles gave the group of artists exhibiting together at the Salon d'Automne in 1905, the derisory description of 'fauves' (wild beasts). In his Fauvist period Derain was both radical and refined and that remained a characteristic of all his work. Derain's works show however that, in contrast with fauvist principles, they were carefully composed and not painted by instinct. When he used pure colours straight from the tube for instance, he diluted them considerably so that the white of the canvas showed through, thus tempering their strength.
In the years immediately following Fauvism, Derain became interested in the meeting of artistic practice and the intellectual world as well in African art, to which he introduced Picasso. This development and his return from Cézanne's constructive rules to classicism led him to the fringes of Cubism. After the determination and daring of his Fauve period, Derain turned to the classical tradition, while aiming to giving it a new life; he switched from Fauvism's brilliant colours to muted shades. Influences from Cézanne (1908), Poussin (c. 1912), Primitive Italians (1913), Fayoum portraits (1914), Quattrocento and even the artists of Pompeii (after 1920-Gothic period) can be detected in his work. Reference to African, early medieval and classical art is apparent in his sculptures from 1939 while his paintings in the same period were inspired by Caravaggio, the Bologna School and Raphael. He painted figures, nudes, landscapes, and, after 1920, structured and composed still-lifes.
In 1907 Vlaminck and Derain were the first artists to be contracted by the Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler gallery. While he rarely exhibited his work, he featured in the Maîtres de l'Art Contemporain held at the Petit Palais in Paris in 1937 for the Exposition Universelle. Thirty of his paintings were displayed showing the diversity of his themes, including: Portrait of Vlaminck; Table with Cloth; Femme nue jusqu'aux épaules; Drinkers; Bathing; London Street; Grapes; Self-portrait with Pipe; Landscape in the South of France; Woman with Fruit; Rear View of Nude; Mount Olympus; Kitchen Table.
Derain is regularly represented in collectively themed exhibitions, including: The Fauve Landscape: Matisse, Derain, Braque, and their circle, 1904-1908, Los Angeles County Museum (1991); Fauvism or 'Trial by Fire': The Eruption of Modernity in Europe ( Le Fauvisme ou 'L'Épreuve du Feu': Éruption de la Modernité en Europe) Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1999); Fauvism in Black and White. From Gauguin to Vlaminck, Fauvist Engraving and its Setting ( Le Fauvisme en Noir et Blanc. De Gauguin à Vlaminck, l'Estampe des Fauves et son Environnement), Musée d'Art moderne, Villeneuve-d'Ascq (2001); Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Centre Julio González, Valencia (2003); Danseuses et baigneuses chez Derain, Rouault et Vlaminck. 1905-1910 Musée d'Art moderne Lille Métropole, Villeneuve-d'Ascq (2003); The Origins of Abstraction (1800-1914) ( Aux Origines de l'Abstraction (1800-1914)) Musée d'Orsay, Paris (2003).
Derain held very few solo exhibitions. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote a preface for his first one in 1916 at the Galerie Paul Guillaume, which supported him throughout his life. Only three more were ever held in Paris, in 1931, 1937 and 1949. Posthumous retrospectives include: Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris (1954); Derain peintre-graveur, 1880-1954 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (1955); Derain, connu et inconnu Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi (1974); Grand Palais, Paris (1977); Hommage à André Derain 1880-1954, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1980); Musée de Melun (1984); Un certain Derain, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris (1991); André Derain, le peintre du trouble moderne, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1994); André Derain et le retour à la tradition, Musée d'Art moderne, Troyes (1991); Musée Despiau-Wlérick, Mont-de-Marsan (1995); Derain and Vlaminck: 1900-1915, Musée de Lodève (2001); André Derain, sculptures et œuvres sur papier with c. thirty bronzes and half of the models for them in terracotta, Galerie de la Présidence, Paris (2002); André Derain, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Lausanne (2003); André Derain, paysages du Midi, Musée de l'Annonciade, St-Tropez (2003).
In 1919 Derain designed the stage sets and costumes for La Boutique Fantasque based on themes by Rossini for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In the early 1950s he designed stage sets for Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio and Rossini's Barber of Seville at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence. He also illustrated many literary works, usually with woodcuts, lithographs or burin engravings, including: André Salmon's Archives from the Onze Club ( Archives du club des Onze) (1902); Vlaminck's From one bed to another ( D'un lit dans l'autre) (1902); Vlaminck's All for this ( Tout pour ça) (1903); Guillaume Apollinaire's L'Enchanteur pourrissant (1909); Max Jacob's The Burlesque and Mystic Works of Frère Matorel ( Les Œuvres Burlesques et Mystiques du Frère Matorel) (1912); André Breton's Mont de Piété (1916); Pierre Reverdy's Painted Stars ( Étoiles peintes) (1921); Antonin Artaud's Heliogabalus (1934); Petronius Satyricon (1934); Ovid's Heroides (1938); Rabelais' Pantagruel (1946); La Fontaine's Contes et Nouvelles (1950); Antoine de St-Exupéry's Works (1950); Anacreon's Odes (1953). He was also a sculptor carving from shell cases in the aftermath of World War I. He resumed his sculptural work with vigour after 1939. He was awarded the Carnegie Prize, Pittsburgh (1928).
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Basel (Kunstmus.): Vines in Spring (1906); Cagnes (c. 1908); Forest in Martigues (1909); Cadaguès (1910); Calvary (1912); Window (1913)
Bern: Road (1907)
Chicago (AI): Last Supper (1913); Flowers in a Vase (1932); Stag Hunt (1938)
Cologne (Wallraf-Richartz Mus.): View of Cagnes (1910-1911)
Copenhagen (Statens Mus. for Kunst): Woman in a Chemise (1906); The Two Sisters (1914)
Düsseldorf (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen)
Glasgow (AG and Mus.): Blackfriars Bridge (1907-1908)
Grenoble: Cypress in Cassis (1911); Portrait of Paul Poiret (1915)
Houston (The Menil Collection): Forest (La Forêt) (1921, drawing)
Leeds (City AG): Barges on the Thames (c. 1906)
Liverpool (Walker AG): Italian Woman (1921-1922)
London (Tate Collection): Henri Matisse (1905, oil on canvas); The Pool of London (1906, oil on canvas); Madame Derain in a White Shawl (c. 1919-1920, oil on canvas); Landscape near Barbizon (c. 1922, oil on canvas); Still-life (c. 1938-1943, oil on canvas); The Painter and his Family (c. 1939, oil on canvas)
Marseilles (Mus. Cantini): Pine Forest, Cassis (1907); Landscape in St-Maximin (1930)
Moscow (Pushkin MFA): Château in Cagnes (1910); Saturday (c. 1913)
New York (MoMA): London Bridge (1906); Alice in Green Dress (1907); Bathers (1907); Landscape near Cassis (1907)
Ottawa (NG. of Canada): Côte d'Azure near Agay (1905-1906)
Paris (MAMVP): Three People Sitting on the Grass (1906); Still-life on the Table (1910); River (1911); Still-life in the Open Air (1922); Kitchen Table (1924); Harlequin and Pierrot (1924); Nude with Jug (1924); Blond Model (c. 1925); Still-life with Basket (1926-1927); Tall Nude Reclining (1928); Portrait of Madame Guillaume in Large Hat (1929); Pears and Jugs (1930); Large Tree (1930); Landscape in Provence (1930); Landscape at les Angles, South of France (1931); Road (1931); Trees and Village (1932-1933)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Old Tree (1904-1905); Bridge at Chatou (1904-1905); The Seine at Pecq (1905); Three People Sitting on the Grass (1906-1907); Still-life on a Table (1910); Nude with Green Curtain (1923); Landscape (c. 1925); Fontainebleau Forest (1927-1928); Blonde (1928); Figure of Woman (1929); View of St-Maximin (1930); Still-life of Oranges (1931); Crakelines (1934); Cup of Tea (1935); Boats Beached at Camaret (1937)
Pittsburgh (Carnegie MA): Portrait of an Englishwoman (c. 1920, oil on canvas)
Prague (Národní Muz.): Bathers (c. 1908-1909); Cadaquès (1910)
St Louis (AM): Ball at Suresnes (1903)
St Petersburg (Hermitage): Port of Le Havre (1906); Mountain Road (1907-1908); Man with Newspaper (1911); Château (1912); Martigues (1913); Trees in Leaf (1913); Portrait of Chevalier X (1914)
St-Tropez (Mus. de l'Annonciade): Westminster (1905); Effect of Sun on the Water (1905); Bridge over the Thames (1906); Sunset on the Thames (1906)
Tehran: Golden Age (1905)
Troyes (MAM, Pierre and Denise Lévy donation): Hyde Park Corner (1903); Harbour at Collioure (1905); View of Cassis (1907, an entire room)
Villeneuve-d'Ascq (MAM Lille Métropole): 1906, low reliefs
Washington DC (NGA): The Old Bridge (1910); other paintings
Zurich: View of Martigues (1908)