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  • Raoul Dufy
    Jun 3, 1877 - Mar 23, 1953
  • The Ball (Le Bal) - Raoul Dufy was a French artist and designer whose paintings and prints portrayed leisure activities and urban landscapes. His distinctive style is characterized by bright colours thinly spread over a white ground, with objects sketchily delineated by sensuously undulating lines. Dufy took as his subjects scenes of recreation and spectacle, including horse races, regattas, parades, and concerts.
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The Ball (Le Bal)
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  • The Ball (Le Bal)

  • Raoul Dufy
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  • 1920
    Oil on canvas

    In 1905, the Fauvist exploits at the Salon d'Automne had strongly impressed the young Dufy, who embraced colors and flowing lines following the example of Henri Matisse. It was, however, Albert Marquet who showed Dufy the path towards Fauvism: the two artists spent the summer of 1906 painting together in Le Havre, Trouville and Honfleur. In Le Havre they celebrated, Bastille Day, and Dufy commenced a series of thirteen paintings, which define the very essence of Fauve painting. These works were, in fact, painted at the height of the artist's affiliation with this radical movement. Dora Perez-Tibi has written, "[Dufy] kept creating new variations on the subject like a composer constantly repeating his melodic phrase. This procedure reveals his full control of his means: he gives free rein to his lyricism in order to transpose reality to the advantage of his poetic and visual imagination. From this point onwards, Dufy's work exhibits a tendency in common with the Fauves: rather than painting a favorite theme from life, he will be able to paint it in his studio, allowing his imagination to recreate it" (Dufy, New York, 1989, pp. 29-30).

    From 1919 onwards, Dufy continually returned to Vence, the southern base of his studies on Cézanne. It is here that a mature and original pictorial style becomes apparent, as his experiments under the influence of Impressionism, Fauvism and Cézanne's Cubism made him more aware of his own abilities. By the time Dufy painted Le Bal in 1920, he had found his own style: brilliant and direct colors are combined with simplified figures and schematic compositions, which vividly evoke the lively narratives of modern life. His short, parallel brushstrokes lend a dynamic quality to the flat construction of geometrical forms, revealing his investigation of form and space in a brightly saturated variation of the cubist style. Confronted with the light of the South of France, he reinvented it and distributed it over broad areas of color modulating the surface of the painting with rigorously juxtaposed, simplified planes.

    The year the present work was painted also proved to be a milestone in Dufy's career. In April he signed a contract with the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, which gave him a one-man exhibition in 1921. This was the first time that his talent received recognition, and from that point onwards he received numerous public and private commissions.

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Other paintings by Raoul Dufy:

The Promenade by the Sea
The Promenade by the Sea
The Bell Tower (Church of St Vincent in Le Havre)
The Bell Tower (Church of St Vincent in Le Havre)
The Piers
The Piers
The Violin (Le violon) 1948
The Violin (Le violon) 1948
Raoul DufyRaoul Dufy was a French artist and designer whose paintings and prints portrayed leisure activities and urban landscapes. He created airy washes of light and shade, into which he would draw bold calligraphic brushstrokes. The artist's experimental use of color was influenced both by Claude Monet and his Fauvist peer Henri Matisse. “Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones it will always stay blue,” the artist mused. “Whereas yellow is blackened in its shades, and fades away when lightened; red when darkened becomes brown, and diluted with white is no longer red, but another color—pink.” Born June 3, 1877 in Le Havre, France, he enrolled in night classes at the École des Beaux-Arts before studying under Léon Bonnat at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts on a scholarship. Dufy first encountered Fauvism at the Salon des Indépendants in 1905, after which he adapted the style to serve his own artistic purposes. During his life, the artist traveled both abroad and within France, painting views of the Mediterranean city of Nice, as well as scenes of horse races and regattas. Throughout the 1920s, Dufy worked in a variety of materials, producing ceramics, tapestry hangings, and large-scale architectural decorations. His commission for the 26th Venice Biennale won him the International Grand Prix for painting in 1952, a year before his death on March 23, 1953 in Forcalquier, France. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago.