Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was a key player in early twentieth century avant garde art, design and literary/theatrical circles in Paris. As a widely travelled polymath, Dufy’s charismatic personality, wit and curiosity about the world was infectious.
His imagination and technical virtuosity – across a range of media including painting and lithography, posters, book illustration, theatrical set design, textiles and fashion, ceramics and large murals – If cut across all conventional boundaries. Whether a small intricate woodcut illustrating a love poem, or the truly gigantic 1937 world fair murals depicting the role of electricity in the modern age, the effect is mesmerising.
Dufy defies categorisation, constantly innovating and experimenting with new materials and effects. His analysis of the visual world is sophisticated and joyous in equal measure. Perhaps this goes some way to explain why some later critics fail to grasp its complexity and pigeonhole him a ‘decorative artist’, or misunderstand the irony in his witty yet gentle caricatures of elegant social life.
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