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The many faces of Derain go on show in Lausanne

André Derain, La musique, 1905-1906 (Hermitage Foundation)

An exhibition at the Hermitage Foundation in Lausanne casts new light on the roller-coaster reputation of one of the pioneers of modern art, André Derain (1880-1954).

It explores the four periods of the French artist's extensive and very varied production: Fauvism, early Cubism, Neo-Classicism and Primitivism.

The show brings together over 100 works ranging from sculptures and drawings to ceramics and paintings to illustrate the different phases in Derain's artistic development.

As the first exhibition on Derain in Switzerland for 50 years, it offers a rare opportunity to take a closer look at every angle of the work of this great and versatile artist. It also assesses his legacy to 20th-century art.

Changing fortunes

Derain's artistic career was by no means a smooth one. Until the 1930s, he was considered to be among the greatest French artists.

During the inter-war years and especially in the late 1940s - when abstract art was blossoming in Europe - Derain's views on the superficiality of the avant-garde movements won him a reputation as a 'turncoat' and he was ostracised for decades.

It was not until the 1990s that Derain's artistic range became the subject of more in-depth study, thanks to several retrospective exhibitions and increasing open-mindedness regarding modern art.

Eclectic

A friend of Matisse, Vlaminck and Picasso, Derain made a major contribution to the Fauvist movement, which is perhaps the best-known aspect of his work.

But he also played a crucial part in the evolution of Cubism, following in Cézanne's footsteps perhaps more than any other artist in the 'Primitivism' movement which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century.

Derain was one of the first to collect African and Etruscan art and was a forerunner of research into Realism in all its forms.

The exhibition ends on June 9.

swissinfo

In brief

Born at Catou near Paris in 1880, André Derain was a versatile and influential artist whose work embraced Fauvism, early Cubism, Neo-Classicism and Primitivism.

Having earlier been regarded as one of the greatest French artists, he was later ostracised for several decades because of his sharp criticism of some aspects of abstract art in Europe.

His rehabilitation came in the 1990s thanks to a succession of retrospective exhibitions of his work.

Derain died at the age of 74 in 1954.

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