Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Raoul Dufy's Insatiable Appetites

The prints of Raoul Dufy are a delight to behold. They carry the same joie de vivre which we see in most of his colorful paintings. Something sparkles, glitters with light and color, even when the image is only black and white. His prints and book plates have a glittering light and we can feel the sweet summer breeze coming in off the Mediterranean when we see his sailor dancing with his paramour, the sway of the leaves of the trees being blown by the gentle sea breezes, the playful quality of the fish and octopus swimming in the sea, sleeping muses floating on the lapping waves like a sailor’s mirage of Venus, and a host of other subjects.

The man loved the coast, the water, and watching sail boats come in and go out of the harbor. It speaks to a life of luxury and freedom, wealth, but moreso the work speaks of a person enjoying life. What could be more French? Matisse, one of Dufy’s heroes, often said his work was meant to reflect a Frenchman’s life; enjoying one’s insatiable appetites, pleasures and desires. Dufy takes that mantra to heart and shows us a life of leisure, enjoyment and happiness.

His marks are playful, even childlike, but they are accurate and give us a sense of distance, place and dream vs. reality. I enjoy his delicately drawn etchings and the sensuousness he lovingly gives his muses. The relief prints are more brutish, but have a curvilinear line that does not take in the seriousness of the German Expressionist prints he admired. His work retains its joy no matter which media he explored. I am glad to have found these prints, and hope you enjoy them as well.
Bio = Raoul Dufy (1877–1953) was a French artist most closely aligned with the Fauvism movement. He developed a colorful, decorative style that popular in ceramics and textile design, and he was also known for his work in drawing, printmaking, illustration, and murals.
Dufy was born into a large family at Le Havre. He left school to work in a coffee-importing company until the age of eighteen. From1895-1900, he took art classes at Le Havre's École des Beaux-Arts. After a brief period of military service, Dufy won a scholarship to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While there, he was influenced by the works of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse.

After seeing the work of Matisse in 1905, Dufy painted as a Fauve until 1909, when he saw the work of Paul Cezanne and adapted a more subtle palette. Dufy developed his own style around 1920 which was called ‘stenographic’.
Dufy liked the Expressionists’ use of relief printing and it led him to illustrate books for Apollinaire and Mallarme. In 1911 he began using relief prints to design textiles with fashion designer Paul Poiret. He also designed fabrics for the textile company Bianchini-Ferrier, from 1912-1930. As an accomplished interior designer, he regularly exhibited his work at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs. He also painted murals for public buildings.
Dufy painted in the vicinity of Le Havre, and the beach at Sainte-Adresse. During the 1920s, Dufy's colorful works depict yacht races, the racecourse and the sparkling French Riviera with its parties. His work always had a sense of joie de vivre, and a lot of the work in this article includes his love of being near the sea.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Dufy exhibited at the annual Salon des Tuileries. By 1950, he struggled with rheumatoid arthritis and took experimental treatments to regain the use of his hands. In 1952 he received the grand prize for painting in the 26th Venice Biennale, and died the next year in Forcalquier, at the age of 76. He was buried in the Cimiez Monastery Cemetery, near Matisse, in a suburb of Nice.

‘My eyes were made to erase all that is ugly’ – Raoul Dufy

He did, indeed.

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