Fry, Roger (1866-1934) - 1921 Self-Portrait (Christie's London, 2009)
Woodcut on woven paper.
Roger Fry, in full Roger Eliot Fry, was an English art critic and artist, best known as the champion of the movement he termed Post-Impressionism. He was born into a Quaker family and was educated at the University of Cambridge for a career in science. His interest in art grew, however, and he studied painting in Italy and also began to lecture on art. Thereafter he published art criticism, and in 1905 his edition of Joshua Reynolds’s Discourses was published.
Fry first came into contact with the work of Paul Cézanne in 1906, and the experience changed his life. He began to publish articles on the works of Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse, and Van Gogh, for in these painters he saw a merging of the structural understanding of the classical artists with the color explorations of the Impressionists. Upon his return to London, Fry became associated with the Bloomsbury group. In 1910 he organized for the Grafton Galleries the first of two painting exhibitions that were to revolutionize aesthetics in England. The uproar over “Manet and the Post-Impressionists” was considerable; it removed Fry from the ranks of traditional and academic critics and propelled him into the vanguard of art criticism.
Fry continued to lecture, travel, and paint throughout his life. His legacy is a body of art criticism and theory that includes Vision and Design (1920), Transformations (1926), Cézanne (1927), Henri Matisse (1930), and several other collections of lectures. He also wrote the Britannica Classic on Paul Cézanne. In 1933 he was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge.