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Robert Delaunay

Page history last edited by Thomas Kutzli 11 months ago


Robert Delaunay: Hommage to Blériot (1914)



Robert Delaunay, Light, 1912

Impressionism; it is the birth of Light in painting.

Light comes to us by the sensibility. Without visual sensibility there is no light, no movement.

Light in Nature creates the movement of colors.

Movement is produced by the rapport of odd elements, of the contrasts of colors between themselves which constitutes Reality.

This reality is endowed with Vastness (we see as far as the stars), and it then becomes Rhythmic Simultaneity.

Simultaneity in light is harmony, the rhythm of colors which creates the Vision of Man. Human vision is endowed with the greatest Reality, since it comes to us directly from the contemplation of the Universe. The eye is the most refined of our senses, the one which communicates most directly with our mind, our consciousness.

The idea of the vital movement of the world and its movement is simultaneity.

Our understanding is correlative to our perception.

Let us attempt to see.

The auditory perception is not sufficient for our knowledge of the world; it does not have vastness.

Its movement is successive, it is a sort of mechanism; its law is the time of mechanical clocks which, like them, has no relation with our perception of visual movement in the Universe.

It is comparable to the objects of geometry ....

Art in Nature is rhythmic and has a horror of constraint. If Art relates itself to an Object, it becomes descriptive, divisionist, literary.

It demeans itself by imperfect means of expression, it condemns itself, it is its own negation, it does not avoid an Art of imitation.

If all the same it represents the visual relations of objects or the objects between them without light playing the organizing role of the representation, it is conventional. It never reaches plastic purity. It is an infirmity; it is the negation of life and the sublimity of the art of painting.

In order that Art attain the limit of sublimity, it must draw upon our harmonic vision: clarity. Clarity will be color, proportion; these proportions are composed of diverse elements, simultaneously involved in an action. This action must be the representative harmony, the synchronous movement (simultaneity) of light which is the only reality.

This synchronous action then will be the Subject, which is the representative harmony.




b. 1885, Paris; d. 1941 Montpellier, France

Robert-Victor-Félix Delaunay was born on April 12, 1885, in Paris. In 1902, after secondary education, he apprenticed in a studio for theater sets in Belleville. In 1903 he started painting and by 1904 was exhibiting. That year and in 1906 his work was shown at the Salon d’Automne and from 1904 until World War I at the Salon des Indépendants. Between 1905 and 1907 Delaunay became friendly with Henri Rousseau and Jean Metzinger and studied the color theories of Michel-Eugène Chevreul. During these years, he painted in a Neo-Impressionist manner; Paul Cézanne’s work also influenced Delaunay around this time. From 1907 to 1908 he served in the military in Laon, and upon returning to Paris he had contact with the Cubists. The period of 1909–10 saw the emergence of Delaunay’s personal style; he painted his first Eiffel Tower in 1909. In 1910 Delaunay married the painter Sonja Terk, who became his collaborator on many projects.

Delaunay’s participation in exhibitions in Germany and his association with advanced artists working there began in 1911, the year Vasily Kandinsky invited him to participate in the first Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) exhibition at Heinrich Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich. At this time he became friendly with Guillaume Apollinaire, Albert Gleizes, and Henri Le Fauconnier. In 1912 Delaunay’s first solo show took place at the Galerie Barbazanges, Paris; and he began his Windows pictures. In 1913 Delaunay painted his Circular Form, or Disc, pictures.

From 1914 to 1920 Delaunay lived in Spain and Portugal and became friends with Sergei Diaghilev, Leonide Massine, Diego Rivera, and Igor Stravinsky. He designed decor for the Ballets Russes in 1918. By 1920 he had returned to Paris, where in 1922 an exhibition of his work was held at Galerie Paul Guillaume. He began his second Eiffel Tower series in that same year. In 1924 he undertook his Runner paintings and in 1925 executed frescoes for the Palais de l’Ambassade de France at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs in Paris. In 1937 he was commissioned to decorate the Palais des Chemins de Fer and Palais de l’Air at the Paris World’s Fair. His last works were decorations for the sculpture hall of the Salon des Tuileries in 1938. Delaunay died on October 25, 1941, in Montpellier, France.

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