Derain was born near Paris and was a contemporary and friend of Henri Matisse. He became part of the first generation of artists to paint in a fauvist and cubist style. It was his fauvist work, recognisable by the use of pure bright colours, for which Derain was most celebrated. However, he turned his back on the avant garde later on in his career and returned to a more traditional style, using muted colours and solid forms. He also designed sets and costumes for theatrical productions.