Fauvism was an artistic style developed by a bold group of modern artists in the early twentieth century. This group, called “les Fauves” (French for “the wild beasts”), were noted for their use of unnatural colors that gave emotional meaning to the vibrant shades used. The French artist Raoul Dufy was one of these Fauvist painters. His art depicted scenes of leisure and landscapes filled with bold sweeps of color.
When I saw Dufy’s works, the first thing that came to mind was he transports you to another place, like you are on vacation. His bold colors and landscapes make you think what it would be like prior to photographs. Although there were cameras during Dufy’s time, think about how you would capture your vacation prior to the invention of cameras. That is what I see when I look at Dufy’s paintings. I was especially impressed by his painting “The Mexican Orchestra 1951,” mostly because by then his hands were affected by RA and he was probably in a lot of pain, but he still painted a beautiful, detailed painting.
As I said, he wasn’t just a talented painter, Dufy also suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike today, at the time of Dufy’s diagnosis there were very few treatment options. Once his hands became disfigured, Dufy would fasten the paint brush to his hand in order to keep painting. He even traveled from Europe to Boston for experimental treatment with Cortisone and Corticotropin (a polypetide tropic hormone produced and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland). This treatment proved successful, and many works following the surgery were dedicated to the doctors and researchers in the U.S.
In 1952, he received the grand prize for painting in the 26th Venice Biennale. Dufy died in 1953 of intestinal bleeding, which likely was the result of his treatment with Cortisone and Conticotropin. You can view Dufy’s work prior to his RA diagnosis “1949 The Bullfight” and “1949 The Yellow Console with a Violin.” Dufy’s notable works after RA diagnosis include “1953 Anemones” and “1951 The Mexican Musicians”.