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What Is Fauvism?

What Is Fauvism?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.53

     challenging words:    complement, complementary, conservative, dabs, excitable, fuchsia, grrrrrreat, lullaby, passionate, periwinkle, violent, realistic, brutal, overall, port, lavender
     content words:    Henri Matisse, Post Impressionists, Open Window, National Gallery, In Open Window, When Matisse

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What Is Fauvism?
By Colleen Messina

1     If you like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, you could have been an artist who painted in the style of Fauvism. These excitable artists would have been excellent in toothpaste commercials. They used bright blobs of paint right out of the tube to create explosions on their canvases and in the world of art.
2     Fauvism began at an art exhibit in Paris. Usually, artists only displayed conservative paintings at formal Paris art exhibits. They displayed paintings of Bible stories, myths, and realistic subjects in normal colors. Anything that looked too crazy was rejected. Henri Matisse, the leader of the Fauvism movement, had such a different style that he decided to have his own exhibit with his friends in 1905.
3     The paints of Henri and his friends, the Fauves, shocked people. Their paintings had wild colors. They used blobs of paint and unusual brushstrokes. Critics called their paintings primitive, brutal, and violent. One art critic compared the paintings to "fauves" which was French for wild beasts. The paintings were displayed in Room 7 which became known as the "cage for the wild beasts." This art style became known as Fauvism even though the Fauves never used the term. The wild beast idea helped these artists sell lots of paintings, which was grrrrrreat.
4     How did Henri start his wild style? He had studied the paintings of Vincent van Gogh and other Post Impressionists. He then decided that he wanted to do something completely new and colorful. He admired van Gogh, but he wanted to use more dramatic colors. Matisse especially liked to use bold strokes of blue, green, and red in his paintings to show his intense emotions.
5     Henri Matisse painted one colorful picture called Open Window. He painted it in a small Mediterranean fishing port in a village called Collioure near the Spanish border. Matisse broke many rules in this painting. The painting shows the view through a small window. Little boats bob along on pink waves in the distance. The sky is bright turquoise, pink, and periwinkle. The reflections in the glass of the window are blue-green and lavender. The walls are a vivid shade of fuchsia. No wonder the art critics were confused. No one had ever painted boats, skies, and waves in such bizarre colors.

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