About 1898, the French painter Eugène Carrière opened an Academy in Paris, where he used to come each week to correct the work done by his pupils, among them Matisse, French painter born in Havre in 1879; died in Paris, 1949. As a student at the school of fine arts in his home town he was guided in his early efforts by Charles Lhuillier, an obscure artist which a passion for the masters of French painting: Poussin, Chardin, Corot. The future Fauve never forgot what he had learnt from his kindly old teacher. In the latter part of his life, after having weathered the storms of the new century, Friesz returned to the spirit of this teaching, and began to listen to the voice of reason, rather than that of instinct. But what a strong and impetuous instinct that was! In 1899 Friesz went to Paris, to the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He was not at ease there. He soon left, in rebellion against the official instruction. He joined up with some good friends of his, to fight against prejudiced and raised the banner of a living art. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1903, and at the Salon d'Automne in 1904. One of the most enthusiastic and brawny of the Fauves (vide Fauvism), intoxicated with colour, a devotee of the arabesque, hostile by nature to affectation and preciosity, Friesz painted (up to 1907) his series of Flanders, La Ciotat, and Bathers, and his admirable Portrait of the Poet Fernand Fleuret. Then he when back to Normandy -- and tradition. In 1908 the Fauves had already dispersed. Alone with himself, Friesz rediscovered the virtues of logical composition, simple tones, and thick volumes. Trips to Portugal, Italy and Bavaria helped to accentuate his reconversion to Humanism and tradition. But the vigour, the robustness, the sensuality, which had give such emphasis to the work of his youth, still showed in his landscapes, in his still lifes, in the female figures which he grouped round a fountain, or on the banks of a river, beneath the shade of big gnarled trees. In 1912 he opened a studio and taught until 1914. On the outbreak of the First World War he was mobilized, returning to live in Paris in 1919. After that he rarely left, except for brief stays in Toulon or in the Jura. From then on, far from the revolutionary movement agitating modern art, Friesz went on producing rather than creating, resorting to the cheap devices, easy effects and outworn rules of his craft. The one-time Fauve had given up adventure. The son of a sea captain had cast anchor in the pool of stale ideas. And when, in January 1949, he died, he left a body of work in which the most brilliant promise was followed by skilful evasions. He boasted of having been one of the first to kill Fauvism. He did not realize at the time that it was his own art that he had destroyed.

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