Come to Class with a Pack of “Wild Beasts”

Instructor Kathryn Klauber

Artist-teacher Kathryn Klauber has taught many great classes for Continuing Studies over the past several years and has developed a loyal following. This spring, she came up with a new idea for non-beginner students – one that’s literally “wild.”

“Fauves in the Galleries: Drawing with Expressive Color” is a drawing course that will focus on the style of “Les Fauves” (French for “wild beasts), an art movement that flourished in the early 20th century with such artists as Henri Matisse and André Derain and was characterized by the vibrant, expressionistic use of color.

To become immersed in the artwork, participants will gather at local museums for six of the eight sessions: the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection and the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (all course co-sponsors). The course fee includes a campstool for you to use as you examine and interpret Fauvist masterpieces in the museum galleries.

We spoke to Kathryn about the new course:

Tell us how you came up with the idea for the Fauves course.
I’m fascinated by both French and American art of the 19th and early 20th centuries. And Fauvism has leapt out time and again during my research as a brilliant and sophisticated, albeit short-lived, off-shoot of Impressionism as well as a harbinger of the vast Modernist movement. Les Fauves, the “wild beasts,” used revolutionary color choices, both theoretically and in application, to redefine space and interpret mood… This has been an educational project both enticing and probably never-ending for me. I want my students to feel the thrill of the “color revolution,” too – and, ultimately, to experience it through their own expressive creations.

What attracts you to Fauvism?
Along with the tremendous technological and scientific advances culminating in the art of the early 20th century, Fauvism has taught me about the expressive qualities behind color theory and its application; this was a “painter’s movement” with a uniquely sophisticated visual palette.

Henri Edmond Cross, Sunset on the Lagoon

From the Fauvist movement: Henri Edmond Cross, Sunset on the Lagoon, Venice, c. 1903-4, Oil on canvas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Gift of Audrey Jones Beck, 98276.

Who are your favorite Fauves artists?
Two seminal players in the Fauvist movement were Andre Derain and Henri Matisse. And we are very lucky to have a majestic and quintessential work by the former here at the MFAH – Andre Derain’s 1906 monumental painting, The Turning Road, L’estaque. But the influence of the brilliant colorist Henri Matisse brings to Fauvism a spectacular and idiosyncratic expressive display of colors, strokes, and emotion like no other. So I would have to call these two, Derain and Matisse, my favorites. But let’s not forget many other great Fauves: Vlaminck, van Dongen, Roualt, Dufy, and even Georges Braque, to mention just a few.

What do you hope students will attain from taking the course?
As an artist-teacher – two labels that equally define me (and which I couldn’t divide if my life depended on it) – I want to pass along my love of visual history, the artist’s medium, and learning through self-discovery. It’s through “process” (hands-on application) that one often learns best. This is a course that will tie the unique threads of Fauvism together – like DNA for students to decode and analyze – through discovery and self-expression, to find one’s own place in our exciting visual continuum.

From the Fauvist movement: Maurice de Vlaminck (French, 1876–1958). The River Seine at Chatou, 1906; Oil on canvas

The class will meet over the course of eight Thursday evenings, February 16-April 5, 2012. The only prerequisite is any post-secondary level studio drawing or painting class, such as Kathryn’s “Creating Art with Prismacolor Pencils” or “Portraiture Workshop.”

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