The Turning Road, L’Estaque is a prominent landscape painted by a French artist, Andre Derain in 1906. The painting was created in the early 20th century when many artists followed the avant-garde art movement called Fauvism. In fact, this style of painting was developed in France by Andre Derain and Henri Matisse. They and their followers sought for means that would help them to express their personal feeling and emotions and to move away from traditional painting techniques. The feeling they expressed were a reflection of how they imagined the life and the world around them. The world depicted on the canvases of Fauvists existed inside the paining independently from the outside reality. Andre Derain believed that color, lines, and space should replace the simple description of the objects. Fauvist paintings are characterized by simplified drawing, distinct lines, and exaggerated colors. The Turning Road, L’Estaque embodies all the major traits of Fauvism, including such elements and principles as line, light and color, shape and space, emphasis, proportion, movement, and content.
The landscape represents the French village of L’Estaque and a road that it situated there. The road curves through the scene from the low right corner and turns around a park with a stream under the bridge. In the foreground and in the middle ground there are people who are going somewhere; some are hurrying to the stream to take water, while others are resting near the stream.
Lines were of major importance for Andre Derain as well as for Fauvists in general. In The Turning Road, L’Estaque lines are two-dimensional and distinct. Although they are mostly vertical, they are not straight. They define objects – trees, people, road and others – giving them their form and shape. The lines that outline the objects are thin black, grey, and brown. They help a viewer to define what is depicted and to focus attention on some details. Besides, there are some invisible lines. For instance, a woman points at something in front of her and this makes the viewer draw an imagery line to the place she points at. Another prominent line of the painting is the road. The lines in The Turning Road are expressive, as the author uses them not to imitate real lines but to focus attention on shapes and to contribute to the general atmosphere of the painting.
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Andre Derain paid much attention to light, but he created it not in traditional way. Light and shadows were created by means of color. This tradition the Fauve artists borrowed from the painters of Impressionism. In The Turning Road, L’Estaque the marker of shadow and darkness is a more intense color. Such colored shadows eliminate the division of tones and hues. Besides, the intensification of color for depicting light is closely connected to the emotions of a painter. Although the light seems to be natural, it is created by non-traditional elements, namely color and contrast.
In this way, color is the most essential element of art used in The Turning Road, L’Estaque. It influences the depth of the image and the shadows of objects. For instance, blue tones on the red trees are the shadows from the overhead objects. The effects of colors that Derain uses in this landscape, namely blue, red, yellow, green, orange, and grey, are changed in the result of their interaction. Despite the fact that the colors are mainly complementary and not compatible, the contrasted areas create a unique landscape full of life and its own problems. Local color is rejected is favor of arbitrary ones. Thus, trees are red or purple, sky is green and yellow, the shadows of people are green. Andre Derain uses bright colors not in a way he sees it in reality in order to show his emotions and mood and use color as the most persuasive element of art.
Speaking about the form and shape, in The Turning Road, L’Estaque we see simplified forms of the people and objects, what makes the viewer look at the picture for some time to understand what is depicted. The heads are faceless, the trees are plain, and the lines are not distinct and two-dimensional. The painting lack details while all the objects and people are simplified and distorted. The striking difference between the form in reality and in the picture is emphasized by the use of intense color as well.
Another element of art that should be mentioned is space. Lack of natural shadows and bold strokes weaken the perception of depth. Again, depth is portrayed with the help of dark color. But nevertheless, Fauvists considered perspective as very important element and depicted depth in objects and landscapes. A similar artistic device is foreshortening, the visual effect when an object appears shorter or smaller than in reality. This device is very important as it helps to give a three-dimensional volume to the picture, though Fauvists disregard three-dimensionality created by other means. In The Turning Road, L’Estaque one can see that objects and people that are on the foreground are larger while those on the background are smaller.
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The principles of design that are meaningful regarding this landscape are emphasis, proportion and movement. Usually, the emphasis of the artwork refers to a focal point in the image, the place viewer’s eye is drawn to. The Turning Road, L’Estaque may be considered afocal because it is difficult for the viewer to find a particular place to rest an eye. Instead, there is a psychological focus that is created through color and line and which express authors emotions and general mood.
Speaking about the proportion and scale, all the objects seem to relate proportionally to one another. The painter uses scale to create depth, depicting deeper object in more intensive color. In the foreground, we can see people near the stream and those who are going to it, on the middle ground, there are trees and the turning road, and finally on the colorful background viewers see some mountains or woods.
One more principle of design used by Andre Derain is the principle of movement that makes a viewer feel the action and guides his eye through a work of art. In the painting under analysis everything is in motion. For example, the irregular forms of trees hint that there is wind, the people are also moving towards the stream, in the middle ground there is a horseman returning home, and finally the stream is also likely to flow and fall into the river somewhere.
Summing up, The Turning Road, L’Estaque by Andre Derain is an embodiment of all the major traits of the avant-garde art movement of Fauvism. The artist expresses his own emotions and feelings through such formal elements and principles of design as color, line, light, shape, proportion, movement, and others. As many other artworks created during this period, this landscape is significant due to the simplified drawing, distinct lines and exaggerated colors. Despite the fact that Fauvism existed not for a long time, Andre Derain and his followers made a great contribution to the development of Western art by demonstrating expressiveness, color’s structure, and crucial aesthetic qualities.