Robert Delaunay

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Robert Delaunay is the first painter who introduced the concept of color to the Cubism movement; this became a trend later on and was called Orphism. The French painter remains one of the 20th century’s most important artistic figures. His wife Sonia Delaunay was also part of the Orphism movement. Delaunay’s contemporaries like Picasso and Matisse obviously made of a stronger mark then the French artist but he gradually made a name for himself with his distinct style of using bold colors to highlight the depth and tone of his paintings. Delaunay was perhaps one of the earliest and very few artists who were nonrepresentational painters, his work clearly had an effect on the development of abstract art which was based on deep composition created by various planes of color. Delaunay’s art is primarily based on theories revolving around pure color.

Robert Felix Victor Delaunay was born in 1885 in Paris, France. Delaunay was born into a privileged family of aristocrats; his mother had the title of a Countess. From an early age onwards Delaunay developed a strong liking towards art.  Finding studies uninspiring in general, Delaunay left school and started apprenticeship as a theatre designer. Despite coming from a strong family background, and unlike his contemporaries Delaunay received no formal education in art. It was only when he met his wife, Russian artist Sonia that he realized how much art meant to him. She is credited for reigniting his desire for art in many ways. Sonia became his life-long collaborator on art and continued his legacy even after his death. Soon after marrying Sonia, Delaunay’s own personal style of art emerged and started making waves on the Parisian circuit. Delaunay’s Tour Eiffel is considered by many as the painting which put him on the map. It was his first official painting and it certainly made waves in the right circles. Unlike the name suggests, the painting does feature the Eiffel tower the only thing is it is in Delaunay’s unique signature style of color composition. We have the tower in the middle, in a light pink shade – its architect is immiscible. Surrounding the tower are small clusters of circles in different colors. One would think they might overshadow the Eiffel tower but the way Delaunay was painted them they only add to the towers appeal. It’s a typical Delaunay style of showing how colors can make figures stand out. In Eiffel Tower Delaunay combined fine elements of Cubism and meshed them with the vibrant color depth and tone he was famous for.

With his wife’s strong support, Robert Delaunay’s individual style of pictorial color harmonies created a strong word for him in the art circles. This coupled with his poetic approach to painting made him stand out from the rest of the group of artists at that time. Little did Delaunay know that his style would eventually go on to influence the work of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a group of Munich based Expressionist artists. Delaunay’s pure paintings expressed the dynamism of 20th century art, his strong belief of color transcended a painting rather than the central figure /object in it laid the ground for modern art in many ways. He paid much importance to color and it almost put him in the German Expressionist group of artists.

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