Raoul Dufy was a painter of joy: his style, his subject matter, and his light, bright colors reflect a joy in life and in creating works which impart to the viewer a sensuous delight. Deeply rooted in the French decorative tradition that includes Watteau, Fragonard, and Boucher, he was an amused observer and recorder of the fashionable world around him - of horse races and yachting scenes, sparkling views of the Riviera, chic parties and musical events. The wit and elegance of Dufy's calligraphic draftsmanship, combined with a magnificent control of intense color harmonies, give his work its characteristic style.
Dufy's work encompassed such an enormous variety of media. Although he was best known as a society painter, Dufy's paintings were just one part of his tremendous breadth of creative energy. Dufy brought equal enthusiasm and joie-de-vivre to all his work. He changed the face of fashion and fabric design with his work for Paul Poiret and Biachini-Férier; he was one of the finest book illustrators of his time, producing numerous exquisite engravings for Apollinaire's Bestiaire; his stage and costume designs for Cocteau's Le Beuf sur le toit were inspired, amusing and rapturously received; in 1937 he painted his huge and immensely popular epic to electricity, the fresco La Fée Electicité, for the Exposition Internationale.
Dufy's oeuvre consists of more than two thousand paintings, as many watercolors and almost one thousand drawings. He illustrated some fifty literary works with wood engravings, lithographs, etchings, watercolors and drawings. He made more than two hundred ceramic pieces. There is almost fifty tapestry designs and some five thousand watercolor and gouache fabric designs. Dufy's stage sets, murals and monumental decorations are among the most important of his time.
Raoul Dufy's contribution to decorative art is of crucial important; he made no hierarchical distinction between 'great art' and the so-called 'minor arts,' which he treated with all his natural enthusiasm. He learned the laws and rules of each of these techniques. He expressed himself in his treatment of a small set of themes, constantly repeated, recreated, broadened and transfigured. He discovered an infinite richness in daily life, and his creative imagination, his fantasy, his mental energy, combine to produce a poetry that glories life in all its manifestations.