The Wild Beasts

Fishing Boats in the harbour at Collioure. The little French fishing village became a centre of artistic activity when a penniless Henri Matisse arrived after deciding to give his artistic career a push. He arrived in Collioure in 1905 and was immediately transfixed by the astonishing character and charm of the historic village, with the sea on one side and hillsides of terraced vineyards on the other.

It instantly became his main source of inspiration and he was soon joined by André Darain. In the autumn of that year, they exhibited their work from Collioure in the Salon d’Automne in Paris. Their paintings shocked other artists and were intensely criticised; one Louis Vauxelle spoke of the ‘cage aux fauves’, (the wild beasts”) giving rise to the name ‘Fauvism’ to describe their use of intense colour.

André Darain’s “Boats in Collioure”

The rebellious pair were soon joined by other like-minded artists: Georges Braque, Othon Friesz, Pablo Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, James Dickson Innes and Tsuguharu Fujita. They all rejected the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism to emphasise painterly qualities and strong color.

It was a remarkably brief phenomenon lasting from just 1905 to 1908. However, it put Collioure on the map and the royal castle, lighthouse converted into the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges and typical Mediterranean bay are admired and enjoyed by today’s visitors.

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