Painted at the height of Vlaminck's involvement with the Fauves, Le Pesage de Longchamps is a stunning and unique portrayal of the racetrack at Longchamps in Bois de Boulogne, just west of Paris. Vlaminck here employs the exuberant palette and bold brushstrokes that granted him fame among the most significant artistic and critical figures of Europe. Along with his friend Derain, and inspired by the contemporaneous work of Matisse and Braque, Vlaminck explored the possibilities of colour and exploded the boundaries of realistic depiction. His sensational and prolific output from these years would lead Guillaume Apollinaire to deem him 'one of the most talented painters of his generation […] His simple and intensive technique allows the lines their full liberty, the volumes their full relief, and the colors their full clarity, their full beauty' (quoted in Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde (exhibition catalogue), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, p. 124).
In many of his works from the Fauve period, Vlaminck focused on the idyllic landscape of Chatou, along the Seine - a region he rarely left during the Fauve years. The present work, however, is a brilliant example of Vlaminck's ability to capture the sensational vivacity and excitement of a crowd scene. The Fauve artists often depicted busy outdoor scenes, accentuating the vibrant activity of their subject with bold and aggressive brushstrokes. In particular, it was Dufy who was fascinated by the spectacle of regattas, horse races and public festivals, and like Vlaminck, delighted in rendering the lively atmosphere of the spectacle, and the colourful costumes of the public. Vlaminck brings the same wild and unrestrained sensibility that permeates the landscape paintings from Chatou to his figural compositions, and he effectively captures the essential mood of these moments.
Vlaminck's use of the horserace theme finds important precedent in the work of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. This setting, with its vibrant activity and modern sensibility, was employed by many influential artists, such as Degas and Manet. Vlaminck aligns himself with this artistic legacy in Le Pésage de Longchamps, choosing to focus solely on the crowd with its range of color and figural dynamism. In his famous essay from 1863 'Le Peintre de la vie moderne,' Charles Baudelaire also focused on the racetrack crowd in a description that undoubtedly inspired many modern artists when he wrote: 'innumerable cages, from which slim young men and women garbed in the eccentric costume authorized by the season, hoisted up on cushions, on seats, or on the roof, are attending some ceremony of the turf which is going on in the distance' (C. Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Others Essays, London, 1965, p. 39).
Ambroise Vollard, who became Vlaminck's dealer in the first decade of the twentieth century, saw the amazing potential in the art of the Fauves. He instantly sought out Vlaminck and Derain, seeing in them the fiery spirit of artistic pioneers. It was around the time that he painted Le Pésage de Longchamps that Vlaminck was introduced to Vollard. The dealer later commented on this first meeting, describing Vlaminck as 'a tall, powerful fellow whose red scarf, knotted round his neck, might have suggested some militant anarchist, if, from the way in which he was carrying a canvas, I had not immediately recognized him for an artist. As far as I remember, the picture in question represented a sunset which appeared to have been squeezed out of tubes of paint in a fit of rage. The effect was startling' (quoted in ibid., p. 123).
This work has been requested for the Vlaminck exhibition to be held at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris from February to July 2008.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale