Neo Fauvism

The philosophical progeny of the “wild beasts” — or Fauvists — from the turn of the century appeared on the art scene in the late 1970s and were dubbed the Neo-Fauvists (although the same term was used to describe the paintings of Chinese artist Li Dongping from the 1930s in the memoirs of fellow artist Liang Xihong, which were published in 1948). The “new” Fauvists, like their predecessors, who were strongly influenced by French painters Andre Derain and Henri Matisse, share a love of, and need for, modernistic expression, sometimes to an extreme. They don’t paint what they see, they paint how they see it.

Not unexpectedly, one thread that weaves through Neo-Fauvism is a strong sense of freedom in creation. Sensuous curves, bold and bright, or perhaps gloomy, colors, strong vitality, compelling contrasts, expressive brush marks and occasional unexpected, even jarring, applications of color mark the work of the Neo-Fauvists.

Contemporary artists who are considered Neo-Fauvists include Maryse Casol, Lillia Frantin, Peter Max, Reiner Fetting and Helmut Middendorf.

Peter Max has become a huge commercial success in the U.S., where his unique combination graphic arts-photographic creations appear on pop-art posters, a postage stamp, the NBC logo in the form of a peacock, a stone from the Berlin Wall and the body of a commercial jet; and, perhaps because of his love for Lady Liberty and his staunch patriotism, he has been chosen to commemorate several public events through his art, such as his recent installation “44 Obamas,” official posters for the Grammy Awards, and the start of the Millennium.

Maryse Casol, whose work is vibrant and exotic, is another commercial success: She not only paints but has designed luxurious silk scarves, note cards and even computer screen wallpaper.

Frantin’s paintings are as refreshing and uplifting as Middendorf’s are dark and disturbing, and Fetting’s betray his affinity for the eroticism of the male body, the Berlin Wall and bold colors, in large part as a reaction to the usual grays of his time.

Noted Neo-Fauvists works include:

“Cote d’Azur, France” (Casol)

“Erstes Mauerbild” (Fetting)

“Beginning of a New Age” (Max)

“Stadtkopf NY” (Middendorf)

“Pink Primrose with Peach on Patterned Cloth” (Frantin)