Why and how are two young artists, Matisse and Derain, installed for a few months in the Summer of 1905 in the charming Catalan port of Collioure, going to dare paint without the constraint of real color, of perspectie and drawing, in a manner so new they will become the major actors of the first artistic revolution of the XXth century, « Fauvism »? The 104 masterpieces the Museum of Modern art of Céret and the Matisse Museum of Cateau-Cambresis were able to bring together, through loans from the most important European, Russian and American collections, present for the first time the artistic adventure that made western art take a sudden turn into modernity.
An artistic adventure without an equivalent in the history of art
Caught up by the light of the French Provence and no longer wanting to be submitted to the constraints of any theory, Matisse arrived in Collioure on 16 May 1905, to spend the summer. As he said later, « All I could dream of there, working in front of a spirit-lifting landscape, was to make my colors sing, without taking into consideration all the rules and and all that is forbidden... » Derain joined him and their friendship led to a pictoral collaboration of rare wealth. Their common quest for pure and liberated color suscited great enthusiasm. « We stood in front of nature like children...I worked according to what I felt, only by the colors. » These few weeks of intense production gave life to vivid masterpieces whose violence and sometimes unfinished aspect threw off the Parisian public. This artistic adventure has no equivalent in the history of painting and will definitely leave its mark on the century.
The exhibition brings together, in the most exhaustive way possible, what the two artists produced in Collioure and then finished in Paris. At the end of the Summer, Derain had completed 30 paintings, 20 drawings, fifty sketches, while Matisse had forty watercolors – the only moment he ever painted any - some one hundred drawings and fifteen canvasses...The exhibition focuses on their collaboration on problems such as pure color in front of the elation of feelings, and as an eleemnt of the painting’s construction and the liberation of the painter in front of his subject. It confronts the two artists’ drawings, paintings and watercolors to the environment: the colors of the town of Collioure, the Mediterranean, the warmth and the light. It also tells of the encounter with Maillol, Terrus, Daniel de Monfreid, Louis Bausil, and the correspondence with their
Illustration: Boats on the beach of the port of Avall, beginning of the XXth century. All rights reserved. Private collection.
On the site
For the first time, the exhibition confronts Matisse’s and Derain’s paintings to the landscapes of Collioure at the beginning of the century and to those that remain intact to this day, by using large photographs from that period or recent ones, as well as films. This new research, carried out by the Céret museum, demonstrates the importance of the subject and the site. Matisse and Derain had no means of transport and worked on the village’s three beaches that are famous today, Saint Vincent, Voramar and the Port of Avall. They waked to either site and lived the life of the village’s residents, rythmed by the departure of the nearly one hundred Catalan boats, with their magnificent sails, out to fish. Matisse remained very attached to the village, and aside from the detailed analysis of this short period, the exhibition also presents the works he did at Collioure during his other stays there up to the war in 1914.
Catalogue of the exhibition. Texts by Jack Flam, John Klein, Josephine Matamoros, Dominique Szymusiak, Alain Billard, Colette Giraudon, Chronology by Claudine Grammont. With all the works - paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculptures - done by Matisse and Derain at Collioure in 1905 . And all the paintings done by Matisse during his other stays in Collioure in 1906, 1907, 1911, 1914. 23X28.7 cm, bound , 340 pages, 385 illustrations of which 285 in color. Price: 45€ at the museum’s library. Order by mail, 7.55€ additional.
Matisee Derain, 1905 A summer in Collioure by Joséphine Matamoros and Dominique Szymusiak Collection Découvertes Gallimard 7.5€ at the museum’s library. Order by mail, 4.70€ additional.
Film Matisse-Derain, Collioure: water and fire. Director, Cyril Tricot, script : Josephine Matamoros. 13mn. Production : Eau Sea Bleue productions. Distribution : DVD
To see more illustrations, click on VERSION FRANCAISE at the top of this page