André Louis Derain was born of well-off parents in the small town of Chatou a few kilometres outside Paris.
Derain regularly visited the Louvre in Paris. He received painting lessons from the artist Jacomin, father of two of his friends. Derain also took courses at L’Académie Camillo, where he formed a friendship with the artist Henri Matisse, among others.
The artist Maurice Vlaminck was Derain’s closest friend in the early years. They met each other in 1900 and rented their first studio together.
Derain started his military service at the end of September 1901. In his leaves, he saw exhibitions of artists like Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. In 1904 he saw a comprehensive exhibition of art from the Middle Ages. Derain also came into contact with the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
Matisse encouraged Derain to become a member of the Société des artistes indépendants, and he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in the spring. Derain acquired his first art dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Matisse and Derain worked together in the town of Collioure in the South of France in July and August. They exhibited their works in October at the Salon d’Automne and were dubbed Les Fauves - the wild beasts.
Derain worked in London and visited numerous museums while there, including the National Gallery and the British Museum. The latter gave decisive impetus to his nascent interest in ‘primitive’ art. Derain rented a studio in Montmartre in Paris and had close contact with the artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler opened a gallery in Paris and contacted Derain, Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Derain met his future wife Alice Princet. They married in 1926.
Derain and the other Fauvist artists experienced growing interest, including from abroad; this increased in the years to come.
Derain settled down and worked in various places in France and was close to the experimental artists of the period.
The First World War broke out and Derain was in military service until 1919, one year after the end of the war.
After the war, Derain was regarded as one of the greatest artists in Paris by other artists, reviewers and the public. He also started a career as a set designer. In 1928 he was awarded the Carnegie Prize. At the same time he was in a crisis and affected by the war. During the 1920s he increasingly drew on sources of inspiration from the past and began to be criticised for being too retrospective.
Derain withdrew from the art scene and settled down in Chambourcy outside Paris. Here he concentrated on his many studies and his art. In 1939, the Second World War broke out.
In 1940, Derain fled with his family and was interrogated by the Gestapo in the same year. In November, 1941, he participated in a propaganda journey to Germany and was regarded as a collaborator after the end of the war in 1945.
Derain died at the age of 74.
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