Fauvism

Robert Antoine Pinchon is another of the lesser known Fauvist painters from the early part of the last century. His work follows a fairly consistent path throughout his career and he produced some fabulous paintings.

‘Robert Antoine Pinchon was a French Post-Impressionist painter known for his depictions of ports, bridges, and rolling countryside. Born on July 1, 1886 in Rouen, France, his father was a playwright and close friend of the famed writer Guy de Mauspassant, who encouraged Pinchon to explore art as a youth. He began his studies at the Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen in 1901, where he met both Marcel Duchamp and Pierre Dumont. Pinchon participated in the Salon d’Automne in 1907, where he and his contemporaries were lauded as the second group of talented artists to emerge after French Impressionists such as Claude Monet. In 1914, Pinchon was called to serve in World War I, where he was wounded several times being taken as a prisoner of war by Germany. The artist managed to escape captivity and returned to Rouen in 1918. He went on to reestablish his career, and exhibited works alongside Pierre Bonnard and Albert Marquet, among others. Pinchon died on January 3, 1943 in Bois-Guillaume, France. Today, many of his paintings are held in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen.’

I have attached one of his best Fauvist works that combines beautiful colour within a well considered composition.

I’m often asked ‘should I paint the sky first? ‘ in landscape painting - sometimes it is right to do so, but it very much depends on your idea. In the Pinchon painting it’s clear that both the sky and the tree foliage have been painted as one - brushstrokes painting alternately colours for the sky and the foliage. The reason for this is that the artist intends that the ‘picture plane’ - which is the actual surface of the work - is equally as important as the illusion of space via perspective and overlapping in the picture. So, the surface and colours, shapes and physical brush marks can also appreciated for their own sake, in a purely abstract way. If you look very closely at the work you can see the Burnt Sienna ‘ground’ appearing across the landscape which again adds unity to the work and refers back to the idea of a ‘surface.’ This then is the beginnings of some abstract painting ideas, that will fully take hold some years later.

The second Pinchon painting has similar abstract qualities to the landscape - and again - more obviously in this work - the dark ground is a unifying feature - which also appeared to outline or ‘draw’ shapes, for example the windows. Note also how the foliage and walls have been painted.