Artist biography

(b London, 14 Dec 1866; d London, 9 Sept 1934). English theorist, critic and painter. He regarded the activity of painting as central to his life and continued to paint and exhibit throughout his career. Although critical opinion has never been high, his art stands out consistently for its intellectual clarity of construction. In 1903 he helped found the Burlington Magazine.

Fry's life and career underwent abrupt changes in 1910. He opened the exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists at the Grafton Galleries. This, with the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition effectively brought the British public up to date with developments in art that had taken place in France over the previous 30 years, and radically altered Fry's reputation. He was regarded in England as the apostle of modern art. He was involved with various artists' groups and was the prime mover behind the Omega Workshops, which flourished between 1913 and 1919.

With the appearance in 1920 of Vision and Design, a collection of articles and essays, Fry's influence as a critic and arbiter of taste was further extended.

His work as critic and exhibition organiser was for some time regarded as an innovative and advantageous influence upon modern art in Britain. However, opinion subsequently viewed his legacy as restrictive and unsupportive of British traditions. Ironically, this man who did much to expand the audience for art came to be criticised for his exclusiveness, for insisting on a formalist approach at the expense of historical and sociological enquiry.

Bibliography
D. A. Laing: Roger Fry: An Annotated Bibliography of the Published Writings (New York, 1979)
J. V. Falkenheim: Roger Fry and the Beginning of Formalist Art Criticism (Ann Arbor, MI, 1980)
F. Spalding: Roger Fry: Art and Life (London, 1980)
——: ‘Roger Fry and his Critics in a Post-modernist Age', Burl. Mag., cxxviii (1986), pp. 489–92

FRANCES SPALDING

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