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Barges on the Seine

Painting, 1906, 81×100 cm
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Description of the artwork «Barges on the Seine»

The painting "Barges on the Seine" was created in the midst of Vlaminck's interest in Fauvist experiments, or, to be more precise, in colorful flourishes, which, as often happens, would later be given a name by critics. As for the artist himself and his friends of the time Derain and Matisse, their wild painting was a tribute to the works of the highly respected Gauguin and Van Gogh.
This very painting is undoubtedly inspired by the works of Van Gogh. His influence can be seen in the way the artist applied paint to the canvas and worked with the contours. Still, Vlaminck's personality is not lost behind the shadow of his idol, for his own style is too fierce and original. The artist described his works of that time: "I transposed into an orchestration of pure color every single thing I felt . . . I translated what I saw instinctively, without any method, and conveyed truth, not so much artistically as humanely. I squeezed and ruined tubes of aquamarine and vermilion."
A view of the Seine was familiar to Vlaminck. In his youth he lived on the river bank in Chatou, a suburb of Paris. His family was not well-off, so the artist had to earn money playing the violin, and used to borrow paints from the merchant. Perhaps the mood of this difficult period of his life is captured on this canvas: The Seine here looks not like a romantic symbol of the French capital, but like a dirty canal through which heavy barges move back and forth all day long.
Neither generous strokes of white, nor hot tones of the artist's favourite cinnabar can brighten up this joyless twilight. The faceless backs of barge workers, the smoking pipes of the industrial zone on the horizon - this truly depressing picture creates a striking contrast to the later works of Vlaminck (1, 2, 3). It seemed that the artist would keep using the same colors, and cloudy weather in the landscapes would become his autograph style. But they wouldn't have that dull melancholy and the feeling of anxious despair which the viewers experience when looking at "Barges on the Seine".
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Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Fauvism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1906

Size: 81×100 cm

Artwork in selections: 18 selections

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