Still Life with a Basket

This painting is one of the still lifes produced between 1924 and 1927, in which Derain was experimenting with various ways of rendering form and light. Here, he chooses to use black and white brushstrokes. The light areas are suggested with white impasto, the darker areas by black lines, as we can see on the basket and in the depiction of the grapes. Elsewhere, he creates form by juxtaposing broad irregular brushstrokes, especially when depicting light objects. It is this very spirited brushwork that gives this still life its character and its modernity. The two red fruits on the right are treated quite differently, with flat colour and a pure contrast of values and colour. Without a shadow, they seem to be almost floating and create a feeling of dissonance.
The composition is both simple and subtle: the painting is divided into two almost equal horizontal planes: the table and the almost-plain background. However, the horizontal line on the edge of the table curves in gently towards the right. The grey-green edge of the table echoes the red ochre of the background. In this work, all in shades of ochre and grey, Derain demonstrates his great mastery of the relationships between colours.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume (1929); Domenica Walter