Modern painter Maurice de Vlaminck was born on April 4, 1876, in Paris. Both his parents were musicians. His mother, Josephine Grillet, was a pianist and his father, Edmond Julien de Vlaminck, was a violinist. Music was like second nature to Maurice. He learned to play violin and bass from his father. At the age of 16, the artist moved to Paris to learn painting under painter Henri Rigalon. He earned his living as a violinist and a bicycle racer. Vlaminck married Suzanne Berly in 1894 and later joined the army.

In 1900, at the age of 23, Maurice de Vlaminck’s artistic ambitions rekindled on a chance meeting with Andre Derain in a train to Paris, towards the last phase of his assignment in army. Together, they rented a studio to paint after Vlaminck’s stint in the army ended. The studio lasted for a year, until Derain left for his assignment in forces. Vlaminck attended an exhibition of Vincent Van Gogh’s works in 1901. Gogh’s bold use of colors floored Maurice. The artist later met Claude Monet and Henri Matisse in 1902. During 1902-03, Maurice wrote many novels with slight pornographic flavor. Derain illustrated them. For his artistic interest, Vlaminck would paint during day and would teach violin and play in music bands at night, to earn his livelihood.

Maurice’s paintings were mostly “Impressionist” in style. Matisse encouraged the painter to exhibit at the ‘Salon des Indépendents’ 1904, where two of his groundbreaking paintings of 1900 were displayed, “At the Bar,” and “Man Smoking a Pipe.” In 1905, Matisse, Derain, and Vlaminck together exhibited at the ‘Salon D Automne.’ Here, the art critic, Louis Vauxcelles, labeled them as “Fauves,” due to their exuberant and uninhibited use of color.

“The Daughter of My Neighbor,” “Intimacy,” “Gardens of Chatou” (1904), “Picnic in the Country” (1905), and “Circus” (1906) are some examples of his ‘Fauvist’ works. By 1907, Vlaminck’s painting style evolved to experimental ‘Cubism,’ which was later described as negated painting. In 1908, he began painting ‘Realist’ landscapes, quite close to Paul Cezanne’s style. With time, Maurice’s paintings became more orderly with subdued color. “The Potato Pickers” (1907) “Barges” (1908-1910) and “The Flood, Ivry” (1910) are his “Post-Fauvism” works. By 1910, he was famous all over Europe. In 1911, he went to London and painted views of Thames. In 1913, he painted in association with Derain.

Vlaminck’s assignment of duty in Paris during the World War I, in around 1914, interrupted his painting. During his stint in defense, the artist wrote poetries. After the war too, the artist stayed back in Paris and opened a painting studio here. His exhibition of 1919 at Druet was a huge success and he then bought a house in Valmondois. By this time, Vlaminck had developed a strong ‘Expressionist’ style, using impetuous brushwork and cool earthy colors. Among his most characteristic late canvases are “Sunset” (1938), “Hamlet in Snow” (1943), “Harvest in Storm” (1948), and “Red Tractor” (1956). Meanwhile, he married too for the second time to Berthe Combes. The couple had two daughters. 1925 onwards, the painter travelled throughout France.

Maurice de Vlaminck was self taught and painted just for the passion of art. He remained resolutely apart from any accepted norms or the trends of ‘Contemporary Art.’ In addition to being a painter, he produced lithographs etchings and woodcuts too. Maurice de Vlaminck died of old age on October 11, 1958.

Source by Annette Labedzki

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