Monday, June 4, 2007

An Uncomplicated Genius

Raoul Dufy, fabulous Fauvist master of cheerful, uncomplicated color, was born on June 3, 1877. Dufy specialized in outdoor scenes full of vibrant color, such as his Regatta at Cowes above.

Dufy has always represented to me the epitome of the completely untourtured artist. His work has a joy and vibrancy that are infectious. My wife once owned a Dufy calendar that she purchased knowing nothing about the artist other than that his paintings made her day brighter. Scenes such as his Hommage to Mozart (above), owe much to the work of Henri Matisse, especially Matisse’s The Piano Lesson, both in subject matter and the use of bold decorative line.

Dufy’s joie de vivre spread to other media as well. A detail of his gigantic fresco La Fee Electricite, painted for 1938 International Exposition of Arts in Paris appears above. Perhaps no one has else has ever painted such happiness on such a grand scale. On a smaller scale, Dufy also painted designs for Paul Poiret, “The King of Fashion” and subject of an exhibit currently running at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Whether great or small, Dufy’s works bring a smile to your face, reminding us that art is not always sturm und drang or expressionist angst. Dufy’s brings joy without ever compromising the integrity of his vision, bringing the childlike to the surface without ever turning that simplicity into banality.


lotusgreen said...

i love his work too but, oddly enough, not his paintings but rather his prints. i wrote about them here and here.

Bob said...

Thanks, Lotusgreen.

I haven't seen much of Dufy's prints before. I always regret that the fragility of prints and drawings makes it difficult to put them on display. The PMA had an exhibit of Degas drawings several years ago in a room where the lights went on when someone walked in and went off after a predetermined time, regardless of whether you were still looking or not. I had to walk back in several times. Made me wish they'd installed "The Clapper," instead.

Thanks, again,


lotusgreen said...

interesting, bob. i hadn't thought about that. well, fading must be why god created the internet. really, i'm thrilled at the access here--aren't you?

i seem to recall the photography section of the orsay is kept quite dark for that reason too.


ps i wish there were some way to remember where i'd made comments!