Due to the use of pure brilliant colors applied to the canvas in a violent manner, the artists were dubbed the fauves by Louis Vauxcelles when he first witnessed there paintings in the Salon d'Automne in 1905. Surrounding a conventional sculpture of a young boy was the fauves paintings; Louis remarked then " C'est Donatello dans la cage aux fauves" or Donatello amidst the beasts. There style of painting used non-naturalistic colors, appearing to be applied directly from the paint tubes to the canvas and was the first avant-garde developments in European art. This style of painting was defined by the strong use of color to represent emotions, like an explosion on the canvas of bright, strong and descriptive colors. The fauves arrived at the fauve style after careful, critical study of the masters of the post-impressionism Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. They greatly admired van Gogh, who had said of his own work "Instead of trying to render what I see before me, I use color in a completely arbitrary way to express myself powerfully". The Fauvists carried this further by translating their feelings into color with a rough, aggressive, and almost clumsy style. The Fauvists believed absolutely that in color as an emotional force. Color lost it's descriptive qualities and became a luminous component, creating light rather than imitating it.

The Fauvists, among many, included Henri Matisse, it's originator, his companions Maurice de Vlaminck, Andre Derain, Marquet, Roualt, and Braque. Matisse rejected the traditional renderings of space and sought out a new picture defined by movement of color. Derain's paintings translated every tone of landscape into pure color applied with short, forceful strokes and agitated swirls of explosive color. Friesz found the emotional aspect of fauvism a relief from the ordinary, everyday impressionism he had been practicing.

Henri Matisse was the primary mover of the Fauves. He was born in 1869. His Fauvist works emphasizes color and simplifies lines. Matisse's portrait of his wife which is now called The Green Stripe is divided into two sides. One is warm and the other is cool, but down the middle of Mme. Matisse's face is a green vertical stripe. This stripe however looks very out of place but in fact brings the picture together. The green stripe acts as an artificial shadow line and divides the face with a light and dark side and a cool and warm side. The natural light is translated into color. This portrait is very roughly painted with thick, forceful brush strokes and vibrant non-realistic colors.