LifeBorn in London, the son of the judge Edward Fry, he grew up in a wealthy
In 1896, he married the artist and they subsequently had two children, Pamela and Julian. However, Helen soon became seriously mentally ill. In 1910, she was committed to a mental institution, where she remained for the rest of her life. Fry took over the care of their children on his own.
In 1911, Fry began an affair with Vanessa Bell, who was then experiencing a difficult recovery from the birth of her son Quentin. Fry offered her the tenderness and care she felt was lacking from her husband, Clive Bell. They remained lifelong close friends, even though Roger's heart was broken in 1913 when Vanessa fell in love with Duncan Grant and decided to live permanently with him.
After short affairs with such artists as and , Roger too found happiness with . She became his emotional anchor for the rest of his life, although they never married (she too had had an unhappy first marriage, to the mosaicist Boris Anrep).
Fry died very unexpectedly due to a fall at his home. His death caused great sorrow among the members of the Bloomsbury Group, who loved him for his generosity and warmth. Vanessa Bell decorated his casket before he was buried at Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. Virginia Woolf, Vanessa's sister, novelist and a close friend of Roger as well, was entrusted with writing his biography, that was published in 1940.
CareerIn the 1900s, Fry started to teach art history at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. In 1906 Fry was appointed Curator of Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This was also the year in which he "discovered" the art of Paul Cézanne, beginning the shift in his scholarly interests away from the Italian Old Masters and towards modern French art. In 1910, Fry organised the exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists (a term which he coined) at the Grafton Galleries, London. Despite the derision with which the exhibition was met, Fry followed it up with the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1912. It was patronised by Lady Ottoline Morrell, with whom Fry had a fleeting romantic attachment. In 1913 he founded the Omega Workshops, a design workshop whose members included Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. In 1933, he was later made the Slade Professor at Cambridge, a position that Fry had much desired.
- Vision and Design (1920)
- Transformations (1926)
- Cézanne. A Study of His Development (1927)
- Henri Matisse (1930)
- French Art (1932)
- Reflections on British Painting (1934)
- Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry: a biography (1940) ISBN 0-15-678520-X
- Frances Spalding, Roger Fry, art and life (1980) ISBN 0-520-04126-7
Fry first came into contact with the work of the French painter Paul Cézanne in 1906, and the experience changed the course of his life. He began to publish articles on the works of Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Vincent van Gogh, for in these painters he saw a merging of the structural understanding of the classical artists with the colour explorations of the Impressionists. Upon his return to London, Fry became associated with the Bloomsbury group. In November 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. A second exhibition of a similar nature opened in October 1912.
In 1913, following a precedent that had been set by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement, Fry organized a group of young artists into a collective called the Omega Workshops. The goal of the collective was to infuse the innovative aesthetic of Post-Impressionism into the design of everyday functional objects (such as drapery, furniture, and china). The bright colour and ornamental pattern used by these artists marked a fresh departure from the more restrained design of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Omega remained in operation until 1919.
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.
Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, ed. by Diane F. Gillespie (1995, reprinted with corrections; first published 1940); Donald A. Laing, Roger Fry: An Annotated Bibliography of the Published Writings (1979); Frances Spalding, Roger Fry: Art and Life (1980).
December 14, 1866, London, England died September 9, 1934, London