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    Othon Friesz. Autograph Letter Signed.
    "E. Othon Friesz." Four pages in French, 8" x 10.5", Toulon [France]; July 3, 1922. In this lengthy letter written from Southern France, Friesz writes to André Salmon (1881-1969), the French poet, art critic and writer, looks back years to the style of painting known as Fauvism, a movement in which he was active. Most of the letter is reproduced here [English translation].

    "In order to express myself, I must go over, once more, the reasons for this goal [Fauvism?]. I will not teach you anything with this exercise but perhaps you will agree with certain personal truths of mine that would interest you. I turn now to my twentieth year. The role of the Impressionists had ended. With a sincere and lively enthusiasm they captured half a century. For painters, including myself, who arrived on the scene around 1900, armed with the basic classical instruction, burgeoning skills, and fresh sensations, the example set by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley was the only contemporary truth although we had respect for the Louvre. That is why it appeared to me that pursuing the same Impressionist vein would turn all of us youths, already feeling the roots of new intellectual pursuits (the desire for a more rigid pictorial approach), into counterfeiters. These young artists were understanding of their masters but realists due to the time period in question, felt a great preoccupation to liberate themselves from an objective realism and attempt to equal the older generations through regenerated methods. This starting point hints at the implicit goal. The way was cleared out when it came to color by our immediate predecessors, the neo-impressionists. However this path was not taken lightly and represented a significant decision. From an invigorating starting point, they were able to formulate theories which had follow-through and undulated as life does. This allowed them to make a vast journey and return to the current state of affairs, that is to authenticate nature through regenerated pictorial means, armed in such a way that one day they will have only to let their hearts speak out, their skills channeled, never bluffing by creating hasty art. Their development was both audacious and slow, and their maturity has produced noble works, varied according to their temperaments and powerful according to their conceptions. What a shame that new arrivals to the art world who did not live through the Fauve period have a poor understanding of it and think it was only a taste of bright colors, lending itself to easy joy, purely sensual and made up of 'external' impressions when in actuality the best of the Fauvists reacted against the turbulent sensuality of Van Gogh, the exterior style and exoticism of Gauguin, to become closer to the only builder painter, Cézanne, so as to spread the matter even beyond him!

    Merely a taste for bright colors! The splendid problem of escaping the 'mediocrity' of direct emotion, [illegible] and daring colored orchestrations giving the equivalent of the sun's light. Those conscious of Fauvism, exalted by the enthusiastic and powerful starting point, needed no further stimulant, and had nothing to gain from new [illegible], aside from the first step in their development they tended toward the [illegible] of a long-awaited goal. And so in their mature years, noble works of art abound, while other schools overly concerned with theory, though often intelligent but dry and constrained, die out.

    Fauvism has contributed to airing out the world of painting and promoted productive theories but its label is outdated, after all that label has always been approximate anyway, there are some painters left who I hope will be [or "make"] some beautiful classics.

    There you go, my dear Salmon, this is what I'd say if I were to speak on that time period that was ours."

    Achille-Émile Othon Friesz (1879-1949), who later called himself Othon Friesz, was a French artist of the Fauvist movement, comprised of a group of early twentieth-century artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. Fauvism as a style began around 1904 and lasted only a few years. The leaders of the movement were André Derain (1880-1954) and Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

    André Salmon (1881-1969) was a French poet, art critic and writer. He was one of the early defenders of Cubism.

    A remarkable discourse on Fauvist movement by an artist who was an active participant.

    Condition: Besides the usual folds and holes in the upper left hand corner where it was once stapled, the letter is in good condition.

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    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
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