Mountains at Collioure is a painting by the Fauvist, Andre’ Derain created in 1905. Derain worked closely with another famous Fauvist, Henry Matisse. The “wild beasts”, which is the English translation of the French word, Fauves, was essentially a transitional movement that followed in the footsteps of the Post-Modernists and rejected the representational impulse of the Impressionists, with a movement toward the Expressionists. The Fauvists “abstracted” their images by reducing color to purer and simpler representation, while choosing a painterly approach using quick broad brush strokes.
Mountains at Collioure has a gentle diagonal incline upwards toward the right and sections the canvas between predominately cool and warm colors of blues and yellows. The warmer greens of the grass and cooler, darker greens of the leaves of the trees contrast with the strong oranges of the tree trunks and the slopes of the mountains. Setting off the intensity of the slopes are the mountain’s shadows and the light blue of the sky. The undulating mountains are echoed in the curving lines of the blue-green mass of trees. The rising squiggles of the tree limbs and trunks provide a feeling of the wind and natural growth.
Not much sense of depth is developed in this picture from perspective, line or space. Any sense of depth is derived from the use of masses of cool and warm color, from the swaths of light and dark greens, oranges and yellows, and various hues of blue. Balance is likewise achieved. The mountain peak above the central tree and the mountain mass cut off on the left balances the overall composition. Stability is also rendered by the linear quality of the pathway that cuts across the bottom part of the picture.
Rhythm is established by the equal areas of contrasting colors. Motion may be seen in the wildly bending tree limbs and the loosely painted leaves.
This picture reminds one of a bright, sunny day in a meadow with a tepid breeze lightly moving the leaves of the trees which make a lyrical rustling sound. The work has the recognizable forms of mountains, trees, road, and rock. The title may be appropriate if one were to visit Collioure and see the sights. Nevertheless, the impression of a bright, pleasant day in a meadow could be generalized to any one who has had a similar experience.
As a result of simple bright colors and the dichotomy of cool and warm colors, a pleasurable impression is shown. One can almost feel a light breeze and experience the innate effect of the outdoors. This picture evokes natural movement, contentment, and solitude.