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Symphonie en couleurs (fleurs)
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About the item

Vlaminck's Symphonie en couleurs (Fleurs) resonates with a passion and exuberance that characterise the greatest Fauve paintings. This work was executed circa 1905-06, when Louis Vauxcelles derided the outrageously colourful canvases of Vlaminck, Matisse and Braque on display at the Salon d'Automne as the rantings of 'wild beasts.' The Fauves, as they came to be known, continued to flood their compositions with bold colour for another two years, creating an aesthetic that would later launch the colour revolution of the German Expressionists.\n\nOf all of the Fauve painters, Vlaminck was perhaps one of the most vocal about the trans-sensory impact of vibrant colour. He would frequently use musical and visual qualifiers interchangeably in his descriptions of his art, enabling him to express the powerful, multi-sensual experience he attempted to convey in his paintings. As Vlaminck himself proclaimed: ''When I had spent a few days without thinking, without doing anything, I would feel a sudden urge to paint' he once recalled of this period. 'Then I would set up my easel in full sunshine [...] Vermilion alone could render the brilliant red of the tiles on the opposite slope. The orange of the soil, the harsh crude colours of the walls and greenery, the ultramarine and cobalt of the sky achieved an extreme harmony that was sensually and musically ordered.  Only the series of colours on the canvas with all their power and vibrancy could, in combination with each other, render the chromatic feeling of that landscape' (quoted in Gaston Diehl, The Fauves, New York, 1975, p. 104).\n\nAlthough the Fauves usually channelled their passion for colour through the subject of landscape, the present work is a rare and extraordinary example of that same exuberance applied to the genre of still-life. In this painting, Vlaminck's taste for the vibrant panoramic spectacle is intensely concentrated on a bunch of flowers. The explosive impact is perhaps even more effective than that of many of the Fauvist landscape paintings. Writing about the present work and the other compositions that Vlaminck created during these first few months of his Fauvist endeavour, John Elderfield considered the painter's artistic process and his approach to colour: 'Vlaminck's concern with the immediate led him to base his painting around a combination of the three primary colors, especially the cobalts and vermilions with which, he said he wanted ''to burn down the Ecole des Beaux-Arts,'' and ''to express my feelings without troubling what painting was like before me'' ' (J. Elderfield in The 'Wild Beasts': Fauvism and Its Affinities (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, p. 71).\n\nVlaminck's prescient artistic expressiveness would later inspire the work of the Wassily Kandinsky, whose 1912 treatise Concerning the Spiritual in Art also praised the emotive power of colour. His writing on the theme of the correlation between visual art and music can be applied to the present work: 'Yellow is disquieting to the spectator, pricking him, revealing the nature of the power expressed in this colour, which has an effect on our sensibilities at once impudent and importunate. This property of yellow affects us like the shrill sound of a trumpet played louder and louder, or the sound of a high pitched fanfare. Black has an inner sound of an eternal silence without future, without hope. Black is externally the most toneless colour, against which all other colours sound stronger and more precise.' At the end of his text, Kandinsky offers this poetic synopsis: 'In general, color is the means of exerting direct influence upon the soul. Color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings' (Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1912, excerpts reprinted Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, Art in Theory, 1900-1990, An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Oxford, 1993, pp. 93-94).\n\nVlaminck himself would later recall of these pictures: 'I heightened all my tones and transposed all my feelings I was conscious of into an orchestration of pure color.' And it is this 'orchestration' in the present composition that overwhelms the viewer with a symphonic explosion of colour.\n\nThis work has been requested for a Vlaminck exhibition to be held at the Musée du Luxembourg, from February to July 2008.\nSigned Vlaminck (lower left)
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GB
GB

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Maurice de Vlaminck

dimensions

100 by 66.5cm.

exhibition

Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne, 1947 New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Der Blaue Reiter, 1963, no. 60A, illustrated in the catalogue New York, Perls Galleries, Vlaminck, 1968, no. 13, illustrated in colour in the catalogue New York, The Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art & Fort Worth, The Kimbell Art Museum, The 'Wild Beasts': Fauvism and its Affinities, 1976, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (as dating from 1906-07) Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Derain et Vlaminck, 1900-1915, 2001, no. 15, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

literature

Ellen Charlotte Oppler, Fauvism Re-examined, New York & London, 1976, no. 79, illustrated Robert Hughes, 'Stroking Those Wild Beasts', in Time, New York, 29th March 1976, illustrated (as dating from 1906-07) Niamh O'Laoghaire, The Influence of Van Gogh on Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, 1898-1908, Toronto, 1992, pl. 137a, illustrated p. 529 (as dating from 1906) New History of World Art, Tokyo, 1994, vol. 25, illustrated in colour

provenance

Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired from the artist) Mme de Galéa, France (by descent from the above) Sam Salz, Inc., New York Charles R. Lachman, New York (acquired from the above in 1957) Thence by descent to the present owner

signedDate

Signed Vlaminck (lower left)

time_period

Painted circa 1905-06.

consignmentDesignation

Property from the Collection of the Late Charles R. Lachman

creator_nationality_dates

1876 - 1958


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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