Raoul Dufy (June 3, 1877 - March 23, 1953) was a French Fauvist painter born in Le Havre in Normandy. He developed a colourful, decorative style that became fashionable for designs for ceramics, textiles and decorative schemes for public buildings. He is noted for scenes of open-air social events.
Dufy was born at Le Havre, one, of a family of nine members. He left school at the age of fourteen to work in a coffee importing company. In 1895 when he was eighteen, he started evening classes in art at Le Havre École des Beaux-Arts. He and Friesz were school friends and together studied the works of Boudin in the museum in Le Havre.
In 1900, after a year's military service, he won a scholarship enabling him to attend the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was a fellow student of Braque. He was influenced by the impressionist landscapists, such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.
In 1902, he was introduced to Berthe Weill, who showed his work in her gallery. Matisse's Luxe, Calme et Volupté, which Dufy saw at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, was a revelation to the young artist and directed his interest towards Fauvism. "Les Fauves" ("Wild Beasts") emphasised bright colour and rich bold contours in their work, and Dufy’s painting reflects this approach until about 1909, when contact with the work of Paul Cézanne led him to adopt a somewhat subtler technique. It was not until 1920, after he had flirted briefly with yet another style, cubism, that Dufy finally developed his own distinctive approach involving skeletal structures, arranged in a diminished perspective, and the use of light washes of colour put on by swift brush strokes in a manner that came to be known as “stenographic.”
Dufy’s cheerful oils and watercolours depict yachting scenes, sparkling views of the Riviera, chic parties and musical events. The optimistic and fashionably decorative and illustrative nature of much of his work has meant that his output is less highly critically valued than artists who treat a wider range of social concerns. In 1938, Dufy completed one of the largest paintings ever done, a huge and immensely popular epic to electricity, the fresco La Fée Electicité for the Exposition Internationale in Paris.
Dufy also acquired a fine reputation as an illustrator and an applied artist. He changed the face of fashion and fabric design with his work for Paul Poiret. He painted murals for public buildings, and produced a prodigious number of fine tapestries and ceramic designs. His handsome plates appear in books by Apollinaire, Mallarmé and Gide.
Dufy passed away near Forcalquier, France, on March 23rd, 1953, and was buried not far from Henri Matisse in the Cimiez Monastery Cemetery in Cimiez, a suburb of the city of Nice, France.