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Othon Friesz

Achille-Émile Othon Friesz (French, 1879–1949) was a painter primarily associated with Fauvism. Born in Le Havre, Friesz attended classes at the municipal art college there, where he met and befriended artist Raoul Dufy, who was also a native of Le Havre. He and Dufy trained at the Le Havre School of Fine Arts under well-known 19th-century painter Charles Lhuillier. In 1899, he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied under Leon Bonnat and met Henri Matisse.

Though he was influenced by Matisse, Friesz’s early works were largely impressionistic in style. In 1904, he held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie du collectionneur in Paris, and also showed works at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. Beginning around 1905, Friesz began experimenting with Fauvism, using stronger colors and broader brushstrokes.

Despite the commercial success that Friesz experienced working in the Fauvist style, by 1907, his work had become less colorful and more structured, placing greater emphasis on composition. The artist increasingly distanced himself from pure color and violent contrasts, preferring a more discreet palette and constrained forms. During this time, Friesz developed what would become his signature style, taking a slightly looser approach to traditional oil painting.

After serving in World War I, Friesz returned to Paris. In 1929, he was appointed a professor at the Académie Scandinave, and, later, served at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. By the mid-1940s, Friesz was exhibiting at museums around the world.

He died in Paris, at the age of 70.

Today, his works can be found in prestigious international collections, including the Tate Gallery in London, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.