Raoul Dufy was born in Le Havre, France in 1877. He first began to study art by taking evening classes at Le Havre’s École d’Art at the age of 18. His earliest works consisted of Norman landscapes in watercolors.
In 1900, Dufy moved to Paris with a scholarship to the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts. Artist Georges Braque was a classmate and they would remain lifelong friends. During this time, he became strongly influenced by impressionist painters of the time, such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. In 1902, he was given the opportunity to exhibit his work in Berthe Weill’s gallery and in 1903 at the Salon des Independants. He continued to paint around France, including Le Havre.
In 1905, Dufy’s style would change dramatically as he would be introduced to Henri Matisse and other Fauves at the Salon des Indépendants. The emphasis on bright color and bold contouring lines was exciting for him. Raoul Dufy experimented with Fauvism and later with Cubism until around 1920. At this point, Dufy began working in his own unique style by incorporating skeletal structures, foreshortened perspective, and light sweeps of color. He used quick brush strokes in a technique known as stenographic.
Dufy’s subjects are typically landscape scenes of Paris or the Riveria, interiors or parties with music playing an important role. By 1925, he was an established painter and received commissions to paint murals for many French public buildings. For the 1937 World’s Fair, Raoul Dufy was commissioned to create a large fresco celebrating electricity for the Paris electricity distribution company. He also was a successful illustrator and commercial artist, designing tapestries, fabrics and ceramics.
Raoul Dufy began to suffer from multiple-arthritis in 1937, and moved to southwestern France for his health. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Raoul Dufy exhibited at the annual Salon des Tuileries in Paris. He died in 1953, and he was buried near Matisse just outside of Nice.