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In160 works of art, the career of a major actor of the first half of the XXth century.

Following the retrospectives of Braque and Dufy, the musée Malraux presents a new tribute to the pioneers from Le Havre in modern painting by dedicating an exhibition to Othon Friesz (1879-1949), a companion of Matisse, Vlaminck, Van Dongen and Derain. After La Piscine in Roubaix and the Musée d'art moderne in Céret, this last stop of the exhibition Othon Friesz, le fauve baroque will give us the opportunity to rediscover the most lyrical of the Fauves.

Les Baigneuses (ou Les Demoiselles de Marseille), 1907 Huile sur toile, 115 x 122 cm Genève, Association des amis du Petit Palais, photo Studio M. Bernaz, Genève - © ADAGP, Paris 2007

Following Fauvism, the influence of Cézanne

This is the first retrospective since 1979, and it finally gives the artist his legitimate place in the history of art. The nearly 160 pieces brought together present a complete panorama of Friesz' work. Here we have the colored and voluble enthusiasm of his period in Antwerp, where he painted landscapes with Braque in 1906, the Fauvist summits in 1907, in the company of Matisse, Manguin and Vlaminck, then his stay in the French “Midi” the same year, in Cassis and La Ciotat, where his Fauvism with exacerbated colors was tempted by abstraction. After these intense moments he goes through a restructuring phase during which he is attracted by neo-Cezanism. It leads Othon Friesz, at the moment of maturity, to compose work that is marked by a more austere palette but in which his lines remain animated by a Baroque expressiveness.
After World War I, Friesz followed a path parallel to that of most of his former Fauve colleagues and took up subjects that are rather traditional in painting - still lives, landscapes, history, portraits, allegories, settings, nudes.

Illustration: Croiseur pavoisé à Anvers, 1906, Oil on canvas,, 60 x 73 cm Paris, collection Larock-Granoff - © ADAGP, Paris 2007

A dynamic figure in the cultural life of Le Havre

The exhibition enriches itself in Le Havre with an additional section that sheds light on the dominating role Othon Friesz had in the cultural life of that city. The co-founder in 1906 of the Circle of Modern Art, a local association of amateurs and artists, ardent defenders of Modernity, the young painter greatly contributed to spread a craze for the Fauve school among his fellow citizens. He was a member of the painting committee with Dufy and Braque and participated in the four exhibitions of the Circle, from 1906 to 1909, which also brought together works by Matisse, Marquet or Van Dongen. In order to make known the mysterious beginnings of Fauvism, the Musée Malraux presents, next to works from Othon Friesz's youth, some of the works purchased by collectors from Le Havre during those exhibitions and which have entered the museum's collection since

A master of decorative arts

The exhibition also gives a leading role to the decorative arts. A series of vases and dishes decorated by Friesz completes the presentation of the remarkable ensemble of ceramics designed for a villa in Sainte-Adresse, very recently acquired by the musée Malraux. The famous panels painted for the Parisian apartment of the viscount Amédée de Flers, never seen before this exhibition, show that Friesz followed Dufy's example and also imposed himself as one of the artisans of the movement of renovation of the decorative arts in the period between the two wars.
His contribution to bibliophilism is the object of an additional exhibition at the municipal library of Le Havre, Othon Friesz illustrateur (24 November 2007 - 26 January 2008).

Illustration: Plate, Naked woman eating under a palm tree, 1908-1909
Faïence stannifère, diam. 24 cm Paris, collection Larock-Granoff - © ADAGP, Paris 200


To coincide with the exhibition, Gallimard has published Othon Friesz (1879-1949), le fauve baroque, directed by David Butcher. 304 pages, 250 illustrations, 39 €

To see more illustrations, click on VERSION FRANCAISE at the top of this page

MUSEE MALRAUX 2, boulevard Clemenceau - 76600 LE HAVRE
INFORMATION: tél. + 33 (0)2 35 19 62 62 / fax + 33 (0)2 35 19 93 01 Email : museemalraux@ville-lehavre.fr
OPENING HOURS : Monday to Friday 11am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 7 pm.
Closed Tuesday, November 11, Decembre 25 and January 1
ENTRANCE FEES: Full price: 5 €, concessions: 3 €, Free first Saturday of the month
CURATORS: Annette Haudiquet, Conservatrice du musée Malraux du Havre
Joséphine Matamoros, Conservatrice du musée d'Art moderne de Céret
Bruno Gaudichon, Conservateur de La Piscine-musée d'art et d'industrie André Diligent de Roubaix
Commissaire scientifique : David Butcher, Historien de l'art, avec le concours d'Odile Aittouarès
PRESS CONTACT: Eric Talbot Tél : 06 07 45 90 37 talbotattachepresse@wanadoo.fr