Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer
Raoul Dufy (France, 1877–1953)
Oil on canvas
23 ½ x 28 ¾ in.
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000
Horse racing enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1930s, and artist Raoul Dufy was among those drawn to the races at Deauville, Longchamp, and Chantilly in France and Epsom Downs and Ascot in England. The pomp surrounding the races often interested the artist more than the sport itself and, in his painting Paddock, strolling couples in formal dress admire the thoroughbreds on display as a jockey likely departs for the track.
Dufy used a new stylistic approach in these paintings he called couleur-lumière, which conveys impressions of light through the application of expressive and often non-representational color. Color, in his paintings of this period, represents light and its absence implies shadow. Because Dufy often focused on the most brilliant colors in a given scene, the result appears as a patchwork of primary and secondary colors accentuated with dark, calligraphic contours that he used to define the forms. Dufy’s aesthetic choices imbue Paddock with a lighthearted and jovial atmosphere.