Andre Derain's "The Cypresses", An Interpretation

Andre Derain's "The Cypresses", An Interpretation

This painting by Andre Derain, one of the founding members of the Fauves, is called "The Cypresses", and was painted in 1907. Original size is 97/16" x 13", Oil on Board. Comparably speaking, it is a small piece, but in my opinion, a GIGANTIC LEAP towards the abstraction that would lead the way to abstract expressionism.

What I immediately loved most about this piece when I first saw it, was that it is both a landscape, as well as a painting that strips away all the detail and lays bare for us, pure, emotive and expressive color and form. The subjective elements are just strokes of paint laid down very loosely over a lavender colored ground. Very typical for the Fauves is the splitting up of the subject matter into separate blocks of color and shape.

How many different blocks, or groupings can you see here? 1. The light green sky, 2.The row of dark green Cypress trees, 3. The orange hillside below the trees, 4. The cream-colored road with the green grass or vegetation on either side, 5. The orange and dark green shapes that make up a visual column on the left side. 6. The towering blue mountain, and 7. The green row of trees that appears as the focal point center-left, showing us that there is likely a curve to the right of the road.

Derain uses form and hue here in such a masterful way, our eyes are circling the picture plane and don't rest on any particular spot. This synoptic effect is definitely a foreshadowing of the complete abstraction that would come and burst forth in the 1940's and 50's. 


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