Achille-Émile Othon Friesz was born in 1879 in Le Havre.
At a very early age his parents encouraged him to become a painter. So in 1892, he starts his artistic schooling at l’École des Beaux-Arts in his hometown (Le Havre), and in the studio of Charles-Marie Lhuillier (1824-1898). He meets Raoul Dufy and George Braque and will stay very close friends with both of them, as well as go on several vacations together. In 1897, Othon Friesz receives a scholarship which will allow him to study at l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and in the studio of Léon Bonnat (1834-1923). The young painter will also meet Henri Charles Manguin, Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse, and Charles Camoin. He is greatly influenced by Camille Pissarro. You can see what influence the style of Pissarro had on Friesz in a lot of his paintings. He will have an exhibition for the first time at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in 1900. He will also present paintings at the Salon d’Automne in 1904 and at the Salon des Indépendants in 1906. Around that same time he starts to abandon the principles and representations of the Fauvism style and produces paintings with bold and bright colors. A couple years later, Othon Friesz goes on several trips in Europe: Portugal (1911), Belgium (1912), and Germany (Munich and Düsseldorf). His multiple participations in exhibitions for the Sécession berlinoise make him known all the way down to the other side of the Rhine River. He will also visit the United States where his paintings are very well received. He will have an exhibition in the Armory Show in New York and Chicago. From 1912 to 1921, he will teach at l’Académie Moderne de Paris. Starting in 1925, he will teach at l’Académie scandinave and also starting in 1944, he teaches at l’Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In 1937, through l’Exposition Universelle, he will decorate le Palais de Chaillot with Raoul Dufy. He dies in 1949 in Paris.
Achille-Émile Othon Friesz describes his pictorial concept:
“Before wanting to express an idea, you must recognize the sublimity of pictorial lighting. Without it there is no fullness in a form, no harmony, no union – a disorderly invasion of color and its own destruction. This concept of light originated from l’École Française de Clouet in Cézanne. It makes us put control in an image of nature even though nature cannot be copied, yet never succumbing to the mediocrity of direct emotion.”
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Paris, Centre Pompidou
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Toulouse, Fondation Bemberg
Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts
New York, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Saint-Petersburg, Musée de l’Hermitage
E. Bénézit, édition Gründ, Tome V, pages 724-725.
Price : on request