Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes
1909-1929

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Andre Derain Artist of the Ballets Russes


André Derain was a French painter and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse. André Derain was born in 1880 in Chatou, Yvelines, Île-de-France, just outside Paris. In 1898, while studying to be an engineer at the Académie Camillo, he attended painting classes under Eugène Carrière, and there met Henri Matisse. Matisse persuaded Derain's parents to allow him to abandon his engineering career and devote himself solely to painting; subsequently Derain attended the Académie Julian.


Derain and Matisse worked together through the summer of 1905 in the Mediterranean village of Collioure and later that year displayed their highly innovative paintings at the Salon d'Automne. In March 1906, the noted art dealer Ambroise Vollard sent Derain to London to compose a series of paintings with the city as subject. Derain put forth a portrait of London that was radically different from anything done by previous painters of the city such as Whistler or Monet. These London paintings remain among his most popular work.

In 1907 art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler purchased Derain's entire studio, granting Derain financial stability. He experimented with stone sculpture and moved to Montmartre to be near his friend Pablo Picasso. In 1914 he was mobilized for military service in World War I and until his release in 1919 he would have little time for painting.

After the war, Derain in 1919 he designed the ballet La Boutique Fantasque for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. A major success, it would lead to his creating many ballet designs. The 1920s marked the height of his success, as he was awarded the Carnegie Prize in 1928 and began to exhibit extensively abroad — in London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, New York City and Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, Derain lived primarily in Paris and was much courted by the Germans because he represented the prestige of French culture. A year before his death, he contracted an eye infection from which he never fully recovered. He died in Garches, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France in 1954 when he was struck by a moving vehicle.

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Today, paintings by Derain sell for as much as $6 million US dollars. The London paintings were the subject of a major exhibition at the Courtauld Institute in 2005-06.

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