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Ceramics by Raoul Dufy



Raoul Dufy began working as an accountant with a coffee importer at the age of 14. At night however he attended courses at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. As of 1895 he painted academic watercolour paintings of landscapes as well as portraits and self-portraits. In 1900 he was granted a scholarship which allowed him to move to Paris and study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He studied along with George Braque. In 1901 he was able to hold an exhibition for the first time.

As of 1904 his work became influenced by impressionists and post-impressionists. When in 1905 at the Salon des Indépendants he became acquainted with the fauvists, more particularly with the work of Matisse, he gradually let go of his academic style of painting. The fauvist influence disappeared as early as 1909 however, after having come into contact with the work of Cézanne. He increasingly began developing his own style which, after a flirt with cubism, took concrete shape. Dufy is primarily known for his colourful paintings which illustrate joie de vivre, but this is only one aspect of his work. He illustrated no less than 50 books. Dufy was an illustrator of the literary work of Apollinaire, Mallarmé, Gide and Colette among others.

When he met Paul Poiret in 1911, one of the greatest 20th-century fashion designers, he realized his first textile designs. The following year he was offered a contract with the Bianchini-Férier house in Lyon where he would work as a motif designer for printed or woven silk for 17 years. He created no less than 5,000 watercolour paintings and gouaches for fabric designs. In 1918 he realized his first theatre set design. His designs for the set and the costumes of “Le boeuf sur le toit” by Cocteau were met with much praise.

In 1923 he experimented for the first time with ceramic art. He designed a great many sets for the vases of Catalan ceramic artist José Lloréns Artigas. Dufy had his first exposition in Brussels in the gallery Le Centaure. Dufy’s contribution to the applied arts was significant. He completely abstained from making a hierarchical distinction between the “higher” (or visual) arts and the “lower” (the applied arts). He practised both with equal enthusiasm. In 1937 Raoul Dufy designed a 10-metre high and 60-metre wide mural for the Electricity palace at the Paris World Fair, an homage to electricity. During his journey to the United States in 1950-1951 he created countless textile, set and carpet designs. Dufy died in 1953 in Forcalquier in southern France.

Naturally, the Design Museum Gent exhibition focuses on his work as a decorative painter, and will display a ceramics collection which has never before been seen in Belgium. The objects are brought in from various French private collections and from museums.