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Fauvism on view at the Paris Modern

Kees van Dongen

Kees van Dongen: La Danseuse rouge (1907-1908)

By Andrew Jack

PARIS, 25 February 2000
- Last chance! For anyone interested in the development of twentieth century art, Paris' Modern Art Museum has produced an unusual and unmissable exhibition covering Fauvism. The queues outside are testament to its worth.

As was the case with Cubism, the practitioners of Fauvism had their label forced upon them by critics who viewed their art with a highly disapproving eye. Yet they included more or less intimately such well-known talents as Matisse, Derain, Dufy and Braque.

Today, the movement's striking colours - notably the orange that is the leitmotif of the show - remain powerful, but the images hardly shock. Instead, the sheer beauty of colour combinations, and the originality of the compositions make each room in the show a delight.

The exhibition highlights the tight links between the artists of the period, inviting each other to their studios and painting each other in revealing portraits. It is also powerful in the way it shows the influence of Fauvism across national boundaries, including works of Giacometti, Kirchner, van Dongen, Kandinsky and the Russian artists Goncharova and Larionov.

The organisers deserve praise not only for the exhibition, but also for the catalogue. Aside from the usual comprehensive full version, they have produced an excellent mini guide for just FFr 15, which contains good basic descriptions of the different rooms, accompanied by a large number of reproductions in colour which provide a worthy memorial to the show.

Le Fauvism, ou l'épreuve du feu.

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Until 27 February 2000.

Andrew Jack is the Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times and a member of the editorial board of He is the author of a new book entitled, "The French Exception" (London: Profile Book).

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