Alexis Jean Fournier
|male||1865 - 1948|
Brown County, IN
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Alexis Jean Fournier was born July 4, 1865 to French-Canadian parents in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was one of the most flamboyant and prolific artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement. By the age of 14 he was working as a sign painter and scenery artist for Vaudeville. In 1886 he began studying with Douglas Volk, founding director of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. In 1887 he opened a studio on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and the following year produced a series of plein air paintings of vistas outside of town presenting a clear, straightforward view of naturalism.
One of Fournier’s patrons, J. J. Smith, hired him to be staff artist on an archaeological trip to the American Southwest. Following the trip Fournier painted a fifty by twelve foot mural called The Cliff Dwellers for exhibit at the 1893 Colombian Exhibition in Chicago. In the fall he moved to Paris and entered the Academie Julian studying under Jean Paul Laurens, Benjamin Constant and Henri Harpignies. He exhibited one of his earliest paintings, A Spring Morning at Minnehaha Creek, at the 1894 Paris Salon. Fournier also exhibited at the Buffalo Pan American Exhibition in 1901 with fellow Academie Julian landscape painter, Sandor Landeau.
Elbert Hubbard, who founded the Roycroft Community of craftworkers and artists in East Aurora, New York in 1895, bought a painting from Fournier in Chicago in 1902. Shortly thereafter he invited Fournier to Roycroft and the artist moved there with his family in 1903. Fournier’s landscapes of this period are views of the idyllic countryside with traces of human occupation in the form of a house or flocks of animals. Many are fine examples of the tonal aesthetics that were associated with the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
Frequently referred to as the last American Barbizon Painter, Fournier went to Barbizon France in 1907 to paint the studios and homes of the French masters. ‘The Homes and Haunts of the Barbizon Masters’ was shown at the Schaus Art Galleries in New York in March of 1910 before going on tour.
In addition to Roycroft, Fournier also painted in the artist colonies of Woodstock, York and Provincetown, Massachusetts. After Hubbards death in 1915, Fournier spent a significant amount of time in Brown County, Indiana and his style took on a lighter more impressionistic look after he visited the Peaceful Valley. Fournier died of a stroke on January 20, 1948, in Lackawanna, New York.
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