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Landscape at Auvers

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1924, 45×45 cm • Oil, Canvas

Description of the artwork «Landscape at Auvers»

"Landscape at Auvers" is the late work by Maurice de Vlaminck. It was painted much later after his bold experiments with color, which helped the artist to insert his own name into the history of painting as one of the founders of Fauvism. It was created after Vlaminck's brief adventure into Cubism which had little room for ranging passions, and after his disappointment in avant-garde painting in general. Vlaminck calls art, detached from real life, barren: "Nothing is ever born from it."
In Auvers, he lived alone in his villa and painted mostly landscapes. Used to dominate everything and everywhere, Vlaminck tried to subdue the elements there: "You don't flirt with nature, you possess it" - he claimed. That nasty temper of the unruly artist was fully embodied in his canvases: among his landscapes of that period, one is unlikely to find pastoral landscapes or lovely sunny days (1, 2, 3).
The dusk of the pre-threatened sky, heavy leaden clouds, malachite green, almost black vegetation, and all possible shades of dark colours - this is how the late Vlaminck looks like. But, despite the meagre range of emotions and colors, it were Vlaminck's cloudy landscapes that helped him to reach the highest point of his art.
The artist liked to flaunt that he had never studied painting. He actually lied: it has been found out that the artist took private lessons in his youth. And if in the paintings of the Fauve period it was still possible to recognize a daring brush of a self-taught person, not constrained by the academic canons, here we see the firm hand of a self-assured master, applying the accurate, almost ascetic layers of paint without much stress or unnecessary doubt.
It seems that the authoritative Vlaminck managed to subdue the elements and lock them on the canvas, where they rage against helplessness and inability to break free. Past adventures with color excesses did not pass without a trace: the artist had brilliantly honed the ability to add restrained color accents on a canvas, bringing it to life and setting the rhythm of the composition. The artist also used the geometry of the weak elongated strokes.
He applies oil the way he would apply watercolour, and translucent, as if blurred by water, layers of paint on the crowns of trees and in the gaps between clouds create the illusion that you are looking at the desert landscape through the window glass that has not dried out from the traces of a sudden summer thunderstorm.
The painting has a paradoxical effect. On the one hand, Vlaminck, who fell into misanthropic habit, did not seek to please the tired eyes of the viewers - he, on the contrary, tried to lay it on thick and cause existential angst. On the other hand, the intensity of emotional discomfort in Vlaminck's paintings is far from that inherent in expressionism, and his "Landscape at Auvers" does not cause the desire to hide from the weather in the cosy warmth of the fireplace. Just on the contrary - the viewer is longing to walk along a deserted street still wet from the rain and breathe in the dizzying smell of ozone.
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About the artwork
Subject and objects: Landscape
Style of art and technique: Post-Impressionism, Oil

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