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RAOUL DUFY
Ceramics
Gérard Landrot, commissaire-curator, August 10, 2009
Raoul Dufy/Llorens_Black vase with yellow women bathers, 1925_adagp private collection
Raoul Dufy/Llorens_Black vase with yellow women bathers, 1925_adagp private collection
 
This meeting with Poiret is crucial because it reveals in a sustainable manner the common vision the two men hold of their respective arts, because of the competition it creates between them, but mostly because of the definitive and decisive character it lends to the structural development of Raoul Dufy’s style. Their brief cooperation in the Petite Usine from 1910 until the end of 1911 allows Dufy to master new techniques such as the chemistry of colourings, in preparation of the complex operations performed in ceramics, but also to develop a spontaneous style, freed from the constraints imposed by his cubist experience. The variety of themes, the liveliness of tones and the arrangement of the motifs detached from the traditional perspective all make these few months into one of the richest creative periods for the artist and constitute the very genesis of the grand (and less grand) compositions to come.

The powerful group of Lyon silk producers, Bianchini- Férier- Atuyer, takes notice of the extreme originality of Dufy’s creations and, with the consent of Poiret, submit to the painter a comfortable contract. With Bianchini-Férier, Dufy develops and perfects the work he had begun with the fashion designer. The technical and material means made available to him allowed him to produce with the freedom and the joy of life that are the very hallmarks of his creativity. Despite the defection, the fashion designer holds no grudge against the painter. Besides, at the Decorative Arts Exhibition in 1925 Poiret again calls upon Dufy to decorate one of his three prestigious houseboats Amours, Délices and Orgues, docked along the banks of the Seine river, in front of the Grand Palais. Dufy and Artigas first meet in 1922 in Paco Durrio’s workshop, in Montmartre. Their first artistic and tentative cooperation would only occur the following year, a true coincidence as Artigas was initially meant to team up with his fellow countryman Picasso. Twice they arranged to meet in the ceramic artist’s workshop, but Picasso never came.


Raoul Dufy/Llorens Artigas, Nicola Rubio_Small blue garden_Private Collection, adagp
Raoul Dufy/Llorens Artigas, Nicola Rubio_Small blue garden_Private Collection, adagp
 
After a few stays in the capital Lloréns Artigas develops and perfects his ceramic studies in cooperation with Valentin Dueñas, in Durrio’s workshop, prior to moving into his own workshop located in 22 Quai des Carrières in Charenton-le-Pont, in the immediate vicinity of Paris, in 1923. The young ceramic artist, painter and art critic who was born in 1892 in Barcelona captures Dufy’s imagination as he has different intentions than Paco Durrio: he does not seek to create formal art based on sculpture. Dufy discerns in this relative neutrality the intriguing possibility of combined creation, where his own drawings, enriched by durable enamel and enhanced colourings, naturally invite him to strive towards the decorative coherence which he has long felt to be an imperative necessity.

On the subject of Artigas who, after having taught at the Escola Technica d’Oficis d’Art of Barcelona, had just submitted a brilliant thesis entitled: “Les pâtes céramiques et les émaux bleus de l’ancienne Égypte”, he states: “In art, I believe that there is a continuous line drawn between prehistory and the world of today. In reality, there is but one art whose works are produced by different techniques.” This conceptual convergence is what will allow the two artists to create common work so rich, for such a length of time and in such an indivisible manner. Dufy, Artigas’s elder by 15 years, is already a recognized artist and seems to have been immediately convinced of the talent and personality of the young Catalan. Although the decors created by Dufy during their combined work display an extreme variety, they are still applied to a very small number of vase shapes as we count a total of about fifteen silhouettes, while in his personal work Artigas has produced over a hundred. The formal imagination of the creators, however, is stirred by the invention of their famous “salon gardens”.


Raoul Dufy/Llorens Artigas_Vase with women bathers, 1925_Adagp, private collection
Raoul Dufy/Llorens Artigas_Vase with women bathers, 1925_Adagp, private collection
 
While the first collaboration between the two artists (1922-1930) may be easy to follow in light of three exhibitions in Paris from 1926 to 1929, two in Brussels, one in London and another one in New York, the same does not hold true for the second period (1937-beginning of the war) as it seems that their common works were never exhibited in any gallery. We have hardly any indication of the nature of the work produced in this period, a single known vase has been dated end of 1938. It also bears repeating that between July 1936 and March 1937 Raoul Dufy dedicates all of his energy to the creation of the gigantic fresco La Fée Électricité, destined for the Paris World Fair.

It is at the Decorative Arts Exhibition of 1925, in the “Luxury Arts and Industry” section, that Dufy and Artigas present their common works for the first time. While Raoul Dufy exhibits his personal work at the Bernheim Jeune gallery from 1921 on, the common work of the two friends, composed exclusively of vases, is presented in this same gallery for the first time in 1926. The graphic liberty, the ease and generosity of the motifs and colours, which seem to have been applied with faux nonchalance onto the almost timeless shapes, leave a great many art lovers with the feeling of gazing upon “the fine arts”.


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