Art: Pioneers

In the decade before World War I, a few wild young men with paint under their fingernails were planting the weird orchards of modern art. Their shabby Latin Quarter ateliers held the first green fruits of freedom. The sidewalk cafés of Paris rocked and rang with their back-slapping and boasting. Les Fauves, "the wild beasts" and their far-from-tame friends had taken over—Matisse, Braque, Derain, Duchamp, Rouault, and Picasso in command.

They felt a compulsion to go on from where the post-impressionists (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne) left off, and an itch to show that you...

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