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Born in Le Havre, Raoul Dufy began in the Beaux-Arts with Friesz and continued in Paris. After a brief impressionist period, he became a fauve in 1906.
Influenced by Cezanne, he will abandon Fauvism in 1908.
In 1912, Raoul Dufy signed a contract with Bianchini-Férier, a Lyon-based silk merchant.
He committed himself to making his compositions available (gouaches or watercolours) for printing.
He could therefore dedicate time to his research on colour. Little by little, his found his own inimitable style. His drawings are casual, allusive, and serpentine with supple elegance. The colours are limpid and sparkling. Beyond the subjects that became famous in his painted works (orchestras, race tracks, paddocks, circuses, allegories, marine themes, workshops, nudes and bouquets), his contribution to decorative arts (tapestries, silks, draperies, ceramics, theatre decors) is considerable.
Around 1920 Raoul Dufy released the colour of drawings, allowing it to spill over the edges. This freedom of colour echoes the spontaneity of the drawing. Watercolours lend themselves particularly well to this very personal cursive style. In 1935 he began to use medium, a mixture of water and varnish, which gave his oils the transparency and freshness of watercolours.
In 1938 he painted an immense fresco, La Fée Electricité, currently in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. From the 1940’s onwards, Raoul Dufy leaned towards a purer form.
Despite the rheumatism that at the end of his life confined him to a wheelchair, the spirited work of this typically French painter remains a hymn to light, happiness and the joy of living.