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Raoul Dufy

French Painter, Printmaker, and Textile Designer

Raoul Dufy Photo
Born: June 3, 1877
Le Havre, France
Died: March 23, 1953
Forcalquier, France
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Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones... it will always stay blue; whereas yellow is blackened in its shades, and fades away when lightened; red when darkened becomes brown, and diluted with white is no longer red, but another color - pink.
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Summary of Raoul Dufy

It's been said that Dufy never painted a sad picture, for Dufy's particular brand of modernism was unhampered by doubt or strain. Rather, it expressed the most optimistic aspects of the 20th century with wit and style. Dufy's discovery of Fauvism in 1905 was a revelation, and helped him to free color and line from their mimetic functions; his subsequent encounter with Cubism would inform his dynamic Art Deco fabric designs, employed by such famous couturiers as Paul Poiret. By the 1920s, the artist had settled upon what would become his hallmark stenographic style, combining deft and spontaneous outlines with broad and boundless areas of vivid color. He would further adapt this style in several large-scale public works from the 1930s, as well as in a series of paintings devoted to famous classical musicians at the end of his career. Even the great modernist writer Gertrude Stein was lyrical about this quality of his art, saying succinctly: "One must meditate about pleasure. Raoul Dufy is pleasure."

Key Ideas

Biography of Raoul Dufy

Raoul Dufy Photo

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Important Art by Raoul Dufy

The Regatta (c. 1908-10)

The Regatta (c. 1908-10)

Dufy was born in Le Havre on France's channel coast, and throughout his career he depicted scenes of boating, beach-going, and other maritime leisure activities in his art. In The Regatta, we see a group of nattily dressed spectators (including men and women in straw hats and brown and white linen suits; a figure at right wears a purple bathing costume) lining the beach. The figures gaze towards a sea full of sailboats and sculls packed with rowers, as French flags flutter in the breeze. Dufy employed the broad brushstrokes, bold outlines, and vibrant and expressive colors of Fauvism, which he adopted after seeing Matisse's groundbreaking canvas, Luxe, Calme, et Volupté, exhibited at the 1905 Salon des Indépendantes. The Regatta thus demonstrates what Dufy came to see as the "new mechanism for art": not the faithful rendering of external, objective reality but rather the "miracle of imagination at play in line and color."

The Harvester (c. 1912)

The Harvester (c. 1912)

In addition to his paintings, watercolors, and prints, Dufy was famous for his original textile designs featuring whimsical repeating patterns and vivid colors. Many of these block-printed silks and cotton fabrics were used by such famous creators of haute couture, including the French Paul Poiret. Though certain of Dufy's designs made use of purely abstract patterns, in many instances the artist drew upon nature for his inspiration, with birds, animals, flowers and plant motifs forming the basis for his elegant designs.

In The Harvester, Dufy created a dynamic pattern based on the figure of a male harvester reaping wheat. His muscular body is nestled within the angular, abstracted forms of sheaves and shafts of wheat, while the overall dynamism and angularity of the forms marries Art Deco style with Cubist formal innovation. Dufy's textile designs had an enormous influence on popular art in the 20th century, and his style was widely imitated by commercial designers.

Nice, the Old Casino (1927-28)

Nice, the Old Casino (1927-28)

Painted in his characteristic late "stenographic" style, Nice, the Old Casino displays Dufy's use of loose outlines to demarcate forms, which he filled in with thin washes of color. These works convey a breezy nonchalance that - when compared to the laborious, intellectual approach of Cézanne - has led critics to malign him as frivolous. But the beauty and cheerfulness of Dufy's art do not disqualify him as a modernist. In this canvas, Dufy manages to convey with masterful economy of means the essential feel of a specific place and time: a Jazz Age summer night on the Riviera. The glowing beacon of the casino, the crepuscular aquamarine sky tinged with peach, the crescent moon hovering above the Baie des Anges and the silhouetted figures of elegant promenaders combine in an image of unapologetic, sensuous pleasure. Dufy's calligraphic, free-flowing line and liberated use of vibrant color are the artist's hallmarks, and reinforce the paradisiacal sensibility so unique to his art.

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Raoul Dufy Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 17 Apr 2017. Updated and modified regularly
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