Raoul Dufy: A Celebration of Beauty
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Provence: 1940 - 1953
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The Official Commissions for the 1937 Exposition Internationale

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Detail of the Fee Electricite for the 1937 Paris International Exposition

Visitors to the Paris International Exposition of 1937 were shown the greatest hymn to electricity in Dufy's mural, La Fee Electricite.  This gigantic painting decorated the interior of the Pavillon de l'Electricite, one of the largest buildings in the Exposition, designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens in collaboration with Georges Pingusson, who worked on its interior design.  The painting, 200 feet long and 33 feet high, was lit from above by spotlights, its brightness was intensified by the total darkness of the space.
The Fee Electricite celebrates the union of nature and technology, confronted by mythological divinities, and shows the main characters in the history of electricity, from ancient times through the present (as of 1937).
 
Like a Renaissance master-craftsman, Dufy thoroughly researched everything, attentive to the smallest scientific and aesthetic details.  He tried to acquire a complete familiarity with everything related to the history of electricity.  He left nothing out: the advances made in electrical energy throughout history, the scientists who contributed to its development, and its different applications and work in the fields of industry and leisure.
 
The mural was a huge success with the crowds of visitors who took great pleasure in identifying the portraits of the scientists.  La Fee Electricite was a milestone in Dufy's work.  It was the culmination of his experiments in the fields of color and technique.  The use of luminous and transparent colors, created by the Maroger Medium, and the freedom of Dufy's style, to which the work owes its brilliant improvisatory quality, give no indication of the details and thoughtful preparation that went into it.
 
The exhibition will include large scale color photographs showing portions of the completed mural, as well as a set of 10 lithographs (each 1 meter x 60 cm), that were created in 1953 as a scale version of La Fee Electricite.

 

Decoration for the Theatre Bar at the Palais de Chaillot

In June 1936, while he was working on the design of La Fee Electricite, Dufy was commissioned, still under the auspices of the 1937 Exposition, to make a monumental decoration for the semi-circular smoking room and bar of the new theatre at the Palais de Chaillot.

Dufy's work, The Seine, from Paris to the Sea, later known as The Seine, the Oise and the Marne, was a companion piece to the painting commissioned from Friesz, The Seine, from Its Source to Paris.

Created as a triptych, Dufy's work was finally installed in 1940. The painting of this decoration posed a large number of technical problems for Dufy, which were compounded by problems of structure and composition.

The first version, now preserved at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, was unfinished and he began to work again, this time using the Maroger medium -- with which he had recently experimented in La Fee Electricite -- an emulsion that ensured the brilliance and transparency of the color by protecting it from the effects of bitumen.

The Theater Bar was destroyed in 1963 to make way for the Salle Gemier, in the theater of the Palais de Chaillot. The ensemble of Dufy's decoration, made up of three panels, was traansferred to the Musee National d'Art Moderne, and it is now on deposit and display at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. The exhibition will include a full size reproduction of the three panels.

Study for the Decoration of the Theatre Bar at the Palais de Chaillot :

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Etude pour le bar du Palais de Chaillot, 1937/1938, watercolor

 
Decoration for L'Altana
 
 
Dufy painted a wall mural for the drawing room of the Villa L'Altana in Antibes between 1928 and 1929.  It was prepared in oil on re-mounted canvas, for a villa owned by Arthur Weisweiler, that is located inland, overlooking the old city.  The view from the room looks out over a panorama including a broad bay and the sea on the horizon.
 
The ensemble of the decoations that Dufy created for L'Altana created a sense of unlimited space by freely combining reality with an entirely imaginary world.  The watercolor, Multicolored Birds, was a study for the decoration, and was painted in 1929.

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The Multicolored Birds, 1929, watercolor

Etude pour les trois fleuves, 1937, watercolor
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