Raoul Dufy was born on 3 June 1877 in Le Havre. At the age of sixteen, Dufy began taking art classes at l’École municipale des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre, studying under Charles Lhuillier. Whilst studying, he met Othon Friesz, who would become a lifelong friend. In 1900, Dufy received a scholarship to study at l’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, joining Friesz who had started there in 1897. Taught by Léon Bonnat, the leading official painter of the time, Dufy found the academic atmosphere uninspiring and turned to Ambrose Vollard and Paul Durand-Ruel’s galleries, where he was enamoured by the work of the Impressionists, in particular Pissarro and Monet. Dufy settled in Montmartre, where his neighbours included Picasso, Derain and Utrillo.
In 1903, Dufy exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants. Dufy’s practice underwent radical change two years later after he saw Matisse’s Luxe, calme et volupté at the 1905 Salon des Indépendants, exclaiming that all the charms of Impressionism vanished as he discovered a new raison d’être in the joy of colour and line. Dufy would embrace Fauvism, coined by Louis Vauxcelles at the 1905 Salon d’Automne, for the next few years. In the summer of 1908, Dufy stayed in L’Estaque with Georges Braque, abandoning Fauvism for a Cézanne-esque palette, composition and facture. Dufy would begin to reintroduce vibrant colour in the lead up towards the First World War, whilst also experimenting with woodcuts and textile printing.
Dufy’s practice continued to morph during the War, eventually developing towards his signature ‘stenographic’ style characterised by foreshortened perspective, energetic washes of bright colour and linear structures. Over the subsequent decades, Dufy would collaborate on numerous commissions, including prints, ceramics, illustrations, fabric designs, murals and furniture. In 1937, he completed the fresco La Fée Electricité for the 1937 Exposition Universelle in Paris – one of the largest paintings ever completed. In the final years of his life, Dufy regularly exhibited at the Salon des Tuileries, Paris (1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 195, 1953), as well as internationally. He died in Forcalquier, France, on 23 March 1953.
Dufy’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Musée Cantini, Marseille; the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; the Tate Collection, London.