Surrealism and the Dream
8 October 2013 to 12 January 2014
<exchanging gazes> 7: The Rhythm of the Earth. 17th century Dutch and 19thcentury American Landscape Painting
New Display of the Collections
From 24 September 2013 to 6 January 2014
Raoul Dufy painted The Little Palm Tree in 1905. The painting is interesting for a number of reasons. It is situated at the crossroads of different trends, and it offers us an instantaneous view of Dufy's work in 1905, showing a fauvist style in evolution, but always in contrast with the Impressionism of his early years. The scene is made up of a series of flat areas of colour, of more or less defined shades, which, by their opposition, create a sense of perspective and rhythm. The reds and the greens-bright and contrasting colours, fauvist colours par excellence-are here in conflict, in a permanent confrontation. The reds dominate the centre of the painting and seem to rise, so to say, like a winding triangular shape, towards a blue door in the upper part of the composition. That blue door constitutes the only neutral point in the painting, a point towards which our gaze is inevitably attracted. On the other hand, the top and the edges of the work are dominated by greens; intense and dark on the left, and lighter on the right. Both the composition and the colours follow the fauvist model. The framing goes against the academic principles, and the scene seems to have been painted on the spot, as if it were a photograph. Thus, the chair in the foreground has its four legs cut off and the horizon line, which represents the vanishing point, is very high in the composition. The painting does not simply bear the mark of Fauvism, but it also shows that singular gravity found in the pieces from Dufy's youth. Here, the artist works on the chiaroscuro. It is a type of work that, from a theoretical point of view, is entirely opposed to Fauvism, which rejects without concessions any type of shading and maintains uniquely the pure colour. The presence of black or dark green areas in the upper part of the canvas acts as a kind of barrier to the rise of the bright red mass taking up the centre of the painting, which symbolises the emergence of the new trends that, in 1905, were revolutionising the world of art. Dufy's Impressionist past is still present in this painting. Thus, the shapes and objects are made up of small touches of colour of varying sizes. Touches that are sometimes very distanced from each other, as if in an attempt to emphasise the rhythm of the composition, or very close, in order to build flat areas of colour that create a sense of perspective.
The Little Palm Tree is one of Dufy's most interesting works. Although it clearly belongs to Fauvism, it also shows the personality and originality of its author, who cannot limit himself to reproducing of a style without adding a large dose of his own interpretation and personal expression.