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André Derain, le titan foudroyé

Michel Charzat

No one expected Michel Charzat, known as a politician, to be the author of an artistic biography. Yet, he had already shown his tasse for the period between the two wars, in La jeune peinture française 1910-1940. Now he has plunged into the life of a giant (1880-1954), a lover of women and beautiful cars, who at a time was included among the giants of the avant-garde, with Matisse, Braque and Picasso. After being a pioneer of Fauvism and of Cubism, as well as the leading discoverer of African art, Derain never managed to lift himself up from his unfortunate trip to Germany in October 1941 with Vlaminck, Despiau and Van Dongen. The former soldier, the friend of Apollinaire, of haute couture icon Paul Poiret, of Erik Satie, Jean Renoir (he played a small part in La Fille de l’eau), became someone to be avoided like the plague. It is maybe his own experience of ostracism (Charzat was excluded from the Socialist Party in 2008) that gives the author his empathy with his subject. This cruel parable of the apotheosis and the decline is quite convincing and certain periods of his life are well explained: his life in Montmartre, the description of the workshop at N° 13, rue Bonaparte, or the relationship with his art dealer Paul Guillaume.

André Derain, le titan foudroyé, by Michel Charzat, Hazan, 384 p., €39.

André Derain, le titan foudroyé - Michel Charzat

Review published in the newsletter #401 - from 8 October 2015 to 14 October 2015

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