Dates: 1866-1934

Nationality: British

Roger Eliot Fry (December, 14  1866 – September  9, 1934) was an English artist and an art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury group. Despite establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, as he matured as a critic he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism. He was the first figure to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain, and emphasized the formal properties of paintings over the “associated ideas” conjured in the viewer by their depicted content. He was described by the art historian Kenneth Clark as “incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin… In so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry.”

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Roger Fry’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 November 2010, 02:11 UTC, <>

Fry’s clearest thoughts on art, according to Kenneth Clark, appeared in the introduction to Reynold’s Discourses. Fry and Clive Bell enjoyed mutual inspiration from one another. It was Bell’s 1914 polemic Art that introduced the concept of “significant form” to Fry, which would subsequently be more associated with Fry than Bell. In the essays of Vision and Design, Fry stated his case that all art could and should be appreciated principally by its “significant form.” To a public suspicious of complicated modernist theories and the notion of expertising, Fry’s viewer-approach dictum appealed to many. His books convinced a vast readership of the qualities of modern art. Fry criticized the German model of art scholarship in 1933 as seeing works of art “almost entirely from a chronological point of view, as coefficients of a time sequence, without reference to their aesthetic significance.” Fry’s populist approach to art became so pervasive that some thirty years later the German-American art historian Rudolf Wittkower decried it in his own lecture, “Art History as a Discipline.” He owed much to Morelli and Pater, the latter of whom he remarked in 1898, “makes so many mistakes about pictures; but the strange, and for a Morelli-ite disappointing, thing is that the net result is so very just.” (quoted, Ladis). His early monographs on Bellini and Veronese were the best writings on those artists of the time. Throughout his life, he continued to paint and always considered himself an artist as well as an art historian.


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