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Raoul Dufy

(1877 - 1953)
Born on 3 June 1877, in Le Havre, France, painter Raoul Dufy is best remembered as a devoted follower of Fauvism, although he also experimented frequently with other mediums such as ceramics, murals and tapestry design. Dufy’s early artistic training began when he enrolled in several night classes offered by the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris; he subsequently received a scholarship to study full-time at the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, where he trained under Léon Bonnat, a painter whose oeuvre more firmly fell between Academic art and Impressionism – and Dufy’s early school work, too, shared a distinctly Impressionistic style.

The artist was first introduced to Les Fauves—a group of artists who favored painterly compositions rendered in vibrant, emotionally expressive tones —when he visited the 1905 Salon des Indépendants. There he experienced firsthand the vividly hued paintings of Henri Matisse and André Derain (their unusual use of color inspired the critic Louis Vauxcelles to dub them “fauves,” meaning “beasts”). From that point on Dufy began actively incorporating and improvising with the Fauvist color palette in this landscapes and views of the Mediterranean. Throughout his oeuvre, there is a consistent and powerful use of blue, his favorite color, of which Dufy once remarked, “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 not longer red, but another color—pink.”

Although Fauvism as a movement was very loosely affiliated, and relatively short lived, Dufy’s paintings were consistently well received throughout his entire career. His installation at the 26th Venice Biennale in 1952 garnered him the International Grand Prize for Painting. In 1953, only one year after his success at the Biennale, Dufy died in his native France. His paintings have been collected by numerous collections internationally, illustrating their aesthetic appeal but also their art historical significance; his work is currently held by the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Musee D’Orsay, Paris; the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; and many others.