Maurice de Vlaminck caused a scandal at the 1905 autumn salon in Paris with Henri Matisse and André Derain for canvases that combined colours at their most intense with exacerbated expression and vigorous brushwork. Vlaminck’s early work is characterised by an almost instinctive relationship with colour.
Having experimented with the flamboyance and exuberance of Fauvism, he then turned to a more moderate palette. The influence of Paul Cézanne, whose work he first encountered in 1907, led him to focus more tightly on the core elements of his compositions. A newfound firmness is apparent in the numerous village views which let him play with volumes, synthesising shapes and recreating the various facets of space. In these more classical landscapes, the palette is drabber and the paint laid on more thickly.
The broad strokes of the glowering clouds contrasting sharply with the glowing grey-white of the thick impasto snow and mud, the imposing yet rough-hewn house, and the insignificant human presence all imbue the painting with a low-key, even depressing, atmosphere, typical of Vlaminck’s post-World War One output. In 1919, he moved to Valmondois, north-west of Paris, just a few miles from Auvers-sur-Oise. The wintry landscapes and dirty snow of the Paris region inspired him with their uncompromising textures and raw light which, in his words “hides nothing, uses no artifice to beautify the faces of things and people, does not envelop land, sky, and water for its sole benefit”.
Jérôme Coignard, Vlaminck. Un instinct fauve, exh. cat. Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, Milan, Skira, 2008.