Oil on masonite
Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art
The Expressionist approach to painting was developed in Paris around 1905 in the circle of Henri
Matisse and his colleagues whose radical brand of art caused one disenchanted critic to label them fauves (wild
beasts). Expressionist painters also were active in Germany in the same years. The French variety was first carried to
America by artists who lived in or had visited Paris in the first half of the century, and variations of it persist in
Virginia today. Much more brash than the Impressionists, the Expressionists were uninterested in replicating on
canvas visual perception, which their predecessors already had pushed to its extreme. Instead they chose to liberate
color from the limitations of visual reality by utilizing bold hues and an emphatic handling of line and form to "express"
their feelings and thereby stir the viewer's response.
Pierre Daura painted in Virginia in an Expressionist manner, albeit sometimes in a more conservative strain than
he had seen in Europe, perhaps because he felt that it would be better received in his new homeland.
Daura was a native of Spain who had traveled to Paris in 1914, a pivotal time for the arts because Expressionism
had newly liberated painters to move far from the realistic rendering of their subjects. There he associated with some of the
most renowned modernists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, and Piet Mondrian. He even formed with them
in 1930 a short-lived group (the Circle and Square) that exhibited geometric and abstract canvases. Daura learned
well their use of vibrant color and dynamic form to invigorate the two-dimensional surface of the
canvas. Daura married Richmonder Louise Blair when she was in Paris studying art; at the outbreak
of World War II the couple relocated in Virginia. The artist taught painting and the family settled at Rockbridge Baths.
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