L’œil de la Présidence: The Derain sculptures

The Derain sculptures


For this first edition of  “L’œil de la Présidence” I am delighted to present the Derain sculptures that you can discover at the gallery.

Florence Chibret-Plaussu



We know Derain the Fauvist, a friend of Vlaminck and Matisse, Derain the Cubist, a friend of Braque and Picasso, more than Derain the Sculptor. This facet of his work remained very intimate.

Open to all cultures and curious for new experiences, André Derain carved in a variety of materials such as wood, stone, plaster, metal and terracotta which was by far the most frequently used technique.


We can distinguish 3 different periods in the sculpture of Derain:

Direct carving from 1907 to 1912, in this period Derain mainly carved wood and stone. Most of these sculptures are in museums today.

Stone sculpture opposes the traditional in the round sculpture.

It is particularly interesting that Derain did not try to remove the traces of the hammer and chisel. He voluntarily left unfinished parts to underline the primitive aspect of the sculpture.

The most spectacular example of this era is the “Crouching Figure” of 1907 of the Vienna Museum, currently presented at the Pompidou Museum as part of the Cubist exhibition.
This theme of “The Crouching figure” will particularly influence Brancusi.

The 2nd period concerns WW1 where Derain assembled and hammered masks from shell casings. At the end of WW1, he worked on sheets of copper.  The latter specifically made an impression on Picasso.

The 3rd great period of the sculptor began in 1938.
Derain discovered a deposit of clay conducive to modelling near his home, under a tree uprooted by a storm in Chambourcy (Yvelines). He began a series of heads, masks and figurines. He installed several ovens and monitoring the cooking himself.

In 1953, Giacometti wrote:

” Derain is the painter that excites me the most, who gives me the most and has taught me the most since Cézanne, he is the most daring in my opinion.”


In 1959, at the suggestion of Giacometti, who wanted to show Derain the sculptor, the painter’s widow – Alice Derain – had 74 of these terracotta sculptures made into bronzes.

The Museum of Modern Art of Troyes (Donation Pierre and Denise Levy) has a complete set of the prints in bronze, as well as does the Petit Palais de Genève.


Read more: biography and works by André Derain currently available at the gallery