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ART 4 2-DAY 12 April
BIRTH: 1885 DELAUNAY
Born on 12 April 1885: Robert-Victor-Félix
Delaunay, French Cubist painter who died on 25 October
1941. Husband of Sonia
— Delaunay was born 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 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 was painting in a Neo-Impressionist manner; Paul Cézanne’s work also influenced Delaunay around this time. From 1907–08, he served in the military in Laon, and upon returning to Paris he had contact with the Cubists. The period 1909–10 saw the emergence of Delaunay’s personal style; he painted his first Eiffel Tower in 1909. In 1910, Delaunay married the painter Sonia Terk, who became his collaborator on many projects.
Delaunay’s participation in exhibitions in Germany and association with advanced artists working there began in 1911, the year Vasily Kandinsky invited him to participate in the first Blaue Reiter 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, and he began his second Eiffel Tower series. 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 in Montpellier, France.
— Robert Delaunay was a living paradox. In every aspect of his life, Delaunay had to rationalize and mitigate the apparent contradictions between his habits and his mores. He was a man of extreme wealth and extravagant tastes, but yearned to be a simple man in tune with nature. Art provided him a balance between these two extremes. Delaunay chose to express the more harmonic and pure side of his personality through his artwork and indulge his more lavish side while at play. The perplexing nature of his life is manifest in his artwork, which attempts to simplify the complicated. With much informal yet potent training, Delaunay created a personal artistic style that earned him much deserved recognition.
Robert Delaunay was born in Paris to a family of rooted aristocratic lineage. The Delaunays were said to be a cultured, albeit spoiled, family. His father Georges was a modern businessman who daringly invested in electricity at the time of Robert’s birth, while his mother Countess Berthe-Félice de Rose was more selfishly concerned with the arts, travel, and Parisian social life. His parents divorced in 1889 and severed all ties with one another. Consequently, Delaunay hardly knew his father and saw his mother only during periodic home-stays in between her travels. The future artist ended up staying mostly in the care of his mother’s older sister and brother-in-law at their large country estate near Bourges. Delaunay lived a split life -- one of a refined, yet snooty culture with his mother and also one of undisturbed and serene nature with his aunt and uncle. Not surprisingly, he grew to detest the Parisian lifestyle and prefer the calm of the country. On several occasions, Delaunay attempted to bring the two worlds together. One story has it that Delaunay once brought wild birds and their nests to Paris to raise them in the city. Nevertheless, contact with high society permanently changed Delaunay’s tastes. As an adult, Delaunay would favor the good life, choosing the best food, wine, and entertainment Paris had to offer. He was a worldly young man who seemed confident and comfortable on the surface, but was truly unnerved by the obvious contradictions in his divided life.
Delaunay developed a love for the arts at an early age. He rebelled against traditional schooling and paid attention only to classes concerning art and natural history. Delaunay was a lazy student and was expelled from several schools in both Paris and Bourges. At the age of 17, Delaunay convinced his family that he was meant to live his life as an artist. They conceded in spite of their worries of the damage he might do to their social status, as painting was not a very highly esteemed profession for the aristocracy at that time. In 1902, Delaunay became apprentice to the theater scene painter Ronsin in the town of Belleville. This would be Delaunay’s only formal artistic training. Delaunay stayed in Belleville for two years and gained much confidence in his work. Also, Delaunay’s mother became his most avid supporter during this apprenticeship. She supported much of his work, as well as that of his friends.
In 1904, Delaunay’s artwork was exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. He was 19 at the time. The exhibition featured six major works. It was obvious in the subject matter and brushstrokes of these early paintings that the Impressionistic movement had greatly influenced Delaunay’s style. However, over the next few years, his style would change immensely, becoming more futuristic with time. In 1909, Delaunay began his Saint-Séverin series, an in-depth study of formal techniques. Several of these sketches were painted from direct observation and captured the light as it truly fell through the windows and into the cathedral. His more Cubist Eiffel Tower series would soon follow. Delaunay once again exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, showcasing his most important paintings.
In 1910, Delaunay married Sonia Terk, a fellow artist. The two had met through Terk’s first husband Wilhelm Uhde. Uhde was a German art dealer with whom Delaunay visited socially on occasion. Terk was attracted to Delaunay’s whimsical nature and foolishly elaborate life plans. She believed him to be different from the rest of high society, admitting that she was “carried away by the poet in him, the visionary, the fighter.” The tortured artist persona had worked for Delaunay. In 1911, the couple had a son.
In April of 1912, Delaunay began his Windows series. In these pieces Delaunay studied “pure” color, experimenting with the richness of solid color blocks. He was also one of the first artists who played with the relationships and emotions that resulted from the placement of one block of color next to another block of color. Delaunay was greatly impressed by Wassily Kandinsky’s work and strove to produce works that explored color as effectively as this mentor’s. Also at about this time, Delaunay published his manifesto “On Light,” which Kandinsky encouraged Delaunay to write. The beautifully worded essay called art a visual poetry whose success depended on the concept of simultaneity. According to Kandinsky and Delaunay, the act of simultaneity coordinates light so that a harmonic perception of the physical world can be attained. Furthermore, light is the most powerful entity in the world in that it determines what is seen and thus what is detected and known to man. Delaunay acquired much attention in Germany through both his writing and painting. In 1913 the Der Strum gallery in Berlin exhibited a solo show of Delaunay’s work. Delaunay had basically created a new artistic movement, which his peers had termed “Orphism.”
The coming of World War I coincided with great change in the Delaunays’ lives. In 1914, their son became so deathly ill that they decided to relocate to Madrid for him to rest. A year later, the family moved to Portugal for six years and produced little notable artwork. Sonia referred to this stay as a brief family holiday. The couple finally moved back to Paris, and Robert began churning out one painting after another. He had created a truly distinctive style that captured the attention of many Europeans. The Der Strum gallery housed a few shows of both Robert’s and Sonia’s artwork during this period.
Delaunay was fascinated by modernity in spite of his keen appreciation of nature. He saw modern-day inventions as an indication of the shattering of obsolete social conventions and restrictions. Furthermore, these timesaving, effort-reducing, energy-efficient inventions allowed people to have much more freedom in their everyday lives, thus allowing them to spend more time in natural environments. In the 1920s, Delaunay eventually became an active and boisterous advocate of such ideas, incessantly delivering his sermon to anyone and everyone in his presence. His reputation for being an arrogant, loquacious, and oftentimes disrespectful friend therefore persisted, but Sonia merely blamed Robert’s lack of confidence and personal insecurities for this sort of behavior. In any case, Delaunay’s outlook on modernity also affected his painting. Even early on in his career, Delaunay painted Paris and its plethora of technological innovations in a dreamy manner, in works such as City of Paris (1912).
Once again, Delaunay took a break from the art world. He did not produce any great work of art again until around 1930, when his study of abstract forms had been perfected. Delaunay also set out to write a book in the 1930s, but he failed to complete it. For the most part, the Great Depression had weakened the market for luxury goods. According to his wife’s whims, the Delaunays wasted their days away daydreaming and living the simple life. By the end of the 1930s, Robert and his family faced grave financial problems. Robert began to exhibit his work once again to improve their situation. The Paris Exhibition of 1937 allowed the Delaunays to live comfortably once again, and Robert continued to regularly showcase his work all around Paris from time to time thereafter. But in 1938 he became extremely ill, and on October 25, 1941, he died of cancer in Montpellier. His legacy, however, lived on in his wife. Sonia Delaunay gained much respect as an artist herself and also ensured that Robert Delaunay’s artistic legacy would be recognized forever. In 1979, a monumental retrospective of both artists’ work was held in Japan. From then on, major important retrospectives of Delaunay’s work have been housed in museums all over the world.
Robert Delaunay’s artistic techniques were simple and natural, while his life was complex and unnatural. Like most artists, he was constantly in search of a personal voice. Unlike many artists, Delaunay was able to find this personal voice. He created a powerful style all his own that comprehensively explored the power of colors and their relationships to light. But his perseverance and dedication to art seem at times more admirable than his art itself, for he inundated himself in the realm of art and almost transformed it into a science to create precise, well-calculated paintings. Nonetheless, these paintings are beautiful, provocative, and considered essential to any major collection of modern art.
— Delaunay, creador del Orfismo, nacido en París el 12 de abril de 1885. Tras el divorcio de sus padres, lo educaron su tío y su madre. A los diecisiete años entró como aprendiz en un taller de decoración teatral, donde permaneció dos años.
En 1904 expuso en el Salón de los Independientes sus primeros trabajos, influidos por Paul Gauguin y el grupo de Pont Aven. Durante los dos años siguientes se interesó por teorías neoimpresionistas; frecuentó a Metzinger e inició su amistad con el Aduanero Rousseau. Empezó sus investigaciones sobre la ley del contraste simultáneo de colores. Su trabajo de los años 1906-1908 está muy influido por Seurat (Retrato de Wilhem Uhde, de 1907, y trabajos sobre la catedral de Laon).
Hacia 1909 inició el desarrollo de un estilo personal, con las series sobre Saint Severin, de la ciudad, y de la Torre Eiffel. Delaunay llamó a esta etapa período de transición de Cézanne al cubismo o período destructivo.
En 1910 se casó con Sonia Uhde-Terk y se instaló en París. Conoció a Fernand Léger y en 1911, invitado por Vasily Kandinsky, participó en la primera exposición del segundo grupo del Blaue Rieter en Munich. Inició su amistad con Guillaume Apollinaire, Le Fauconier, Albert Gleizes. En el Salón de los Independientes de Bruselas, representó al cubismo, con Fernand Léger y Albert Gleizes.
En 1912 empezó el período constructivo con los primeros cuadros abstractos (Disco, Forma Circular) y la serie de las ventanas, en la que está inspirada el poema de Apollinaire del mismo título. En esta serie Delaunay abandonó el intento representativo, aunque permanecen trazos de objetos reales. El cubismo analítico inspira de Delaunay la fragmentación de las formas. Los colores son diáfanos y del espectro solar. Según sus propias palabras: "...la línea es limitación. Y el color da la profundidad -no una profundidad perspectiva ni secuencial, sino simultánea- junto con la forma y el movimiento...".
En 1912 hizo su primera exposición individual en la galería Barbazanges de París, y al siguiente año su primera individual en el extranjero, en la galería Der Sturm de Berlín, a donde viajó con Apollinaire y Frédéric Louis Sauser Halle (“Blaise Cendrars”) [01 Sep 1887 – 21 Jan 1961]. Apollinaire pronunció una conferencia sobre lo que llama Orfismo. Delaunay presentó el Equipo de Cardiff en el Salón de los Independientes.
Interesado por los temas de actualidad, en 1914 pintó Drame politique y Hommage à Blériot, que anuncian su evolución posterior. Los Delaunay pasaron sus vacaciones en España donde les sorprendió la guerra. Se instalaron en Madrid, donde Robert estudió la técnica de las pinturas con cera. En 1915 y 1916 se instalaron cerca de Oporto, donde investigó las "relaciones entre los colores disonantes de rápidas vibraciones". En 1917 volvieron a Madrid donde Delaunay hizo amistad con Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Igor Feodorovich Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla, y Diego Rivera. A partir de entonces realizó numerosos decorados para los ballets rusos como Cleopatra (1918). Por esta época mantuvo correspondencia con los dadaístas.
En 1922 realizó su primera litografía con motivo de una gran exposición individual en la galería Paul Guillaume de París. Se interesó por los retratos e hizo los de Philippe Soupault, André Breton, Louis Aragón, Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovski, etc. En 1923 realizó los primeros proyectos de carteles publicitarios; en 1924 finalizó la segunda serie de la Torre Eiffel. En 1925 Delaunay y Léger realizaron unos frescos para la Exposición Internacional de Artes Decorativas de París, aunque fueron retirados los cuadros por considerarlos escandalosos y atrevidos. Hacia 1926 y 1927 estuvo en contacto con todos los grandes arquitectos alemanes (Gropius, Breuer, Mendelssohn) y en 1928 Solomon R. Guggenheim compró un Torre de 1910 para su museo, que en la actualidad cuenta con más de treinta obras de Delaunay.
En 1930 abandonó los temas figurativos y volvió a un arte totalmente abstracto. Realizó sus primeros relieves. Entre 1931 y 1935 volvió a los discos y pintó las series de Ritmos y Ritmos sin fin. Buscó una pintura integrada en la arquitectuta y ello le llevó a realizar numerosos relieves con nuevos materiales. Se interesó por la publicidad luminosa y, con su mujer, realizó un stand en el Salón de la Luz. Proyectó un falansterio de artistas (el Valle de los Artistas) en Nesles-la-Vallée.
En 1936 el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York expuso telas de Delaunay en la gran exposición Cubismo y Arte Abstracto. Pintó para el pabellón del aire, en la Exposicion Internacional de París, la obra Aire, fuego y agua. En 1939, ya enfermo, organizó en su casa unas reuniones en donde expuso sus ideas sobre el arte a jóvenes artistas y arquitectos, y organizó el Salón de las Nuevas Realidades en la galería Charpentier de París, donde hay obras de Duchamp, Arp, su mujer Sonia Delaunay, Gleizes, Villon, y él mismo. Murió, víctima del cáncer, el 25 de octubre de 1941 en Montpellier. LINKS
Towers Laon The Windows (1912)
Tristan Tzara (1923)
— Saint-Séverin No. 3 (1910, 114x89cm) _ Robert Delaunay chose the view into the ambulatory of the Parisian Gothic church Saint-Séverin as the subject of his first series of paintings, in which he charted the modulations of light streaming through the stained-glass windows and the resulting perceptual distortion of the architecture. The subdued palette and the patches of color that fracture the smooth surface of the floor point to the influence of Paul Cézanne as well as to the stylistic elements of Georges Braque’s early Cubist landscapes. Delaunay said that the Saint-Séverin theme in his work marked “a period of transition from Cézanne to Cubism
La Tour Eiffel (1926)
— La Tour Eiffel (painted in 1911, although it bears the date 1910, 202x138cm; 573x390pix, 91kb) _ Delaunay explored the developments of Cubist fragmentation in his series of paintings of the Eiffel Tower. In these canvases, characteristic of his self-designated “destructive” phase, the artist presented the tower and surrounding buildings from various perspectives. Delaunay chose a subject that allowed him to indulge his preference for a sense of vast space, atmosphere, and light, while evoking a sign of modernity and progress. Like the soaring vaults of Gothic cathedrals, the Eiffel Tower is a uniquely French symbol of invention and aspiration. Many of Delaunay’s images of this structure and the surrounding city are views from a window framed by curtains. In Eiffel Tower the buildings bracketing the tower curve like drapery.
— Fenêtres ouvertes simultanément 1ère partie, 3e motif (1912, oval 57x123cm; 485x1000pix, 66kb) _ Though Robert Delaunay had virtually discarded representational imagery by the spring of 1912 when he embarked on the Windows theme, vestigial objects endure in this series. Here, as in Simultaneous Windows 2nd Motif, 1st Part of the same moment, the centralized ghost of a green Eiffel Tower alludes to his enthusiasm for modern life.
Analytic Cubism inspired Delaunay’s fragmentation of form, oval format, and organization of the picture’s space as a grid supporting intersecting planes. However, unlike the monochromatic, tactile planes of Cubism, those of Delaunay are not defined by line and modeling, but by the application of diaphanous, prismatic color. Delaunay wrote in 1913: “Line is limitation. Color gives depth—not perspectival, not successive, but simultaneous depth—as well as form and movement.” As in visual perception of the real world, perception of Delaunay’s painting is initially fragmentary, the eye continually moving from one form to others related by hue, value, tone, shape, or direction. As focus shifts, expands, jumps, and contracts in unending rhythms, one senses the fixed borders of the canvas and the tight interlocking of its contents. Because identification of representational forms is not necessary while the eye moves restlessly, judgments about the relative importance of parts are not made and all elements can be perceived as equally significant. The harmony of the pictorial reality provides an analogy to the concealed harmony of the world. At the left of the canvas Delaunay suggests glass, which, like his chromatic planes, is at once transparent, reflective, insubstantial, and solid. Glass may allude as well to the metaphor of art as a window on reality.
— Simultaneous Windows (2nd Motif, 1st Part) (1912, 55x46cm) _ Delaunay's attraction to windows and window views, linked to the Symbolists’ use of glass panes as metaphors for the transition from internal to external states, culminated in his Simultaneous Windows series. (The series derives its name from the French scientist Michel-Eugène Chevreul’s theory of simultaneous contrasts of color, which explores how divergent hues are perceived at once.) Delaunay stated that these works began his “constructive” phase, in which he juxtaposed and overlaid translucent contrasting complementary colors to create a synthetic, harmonic composition. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote a poem about these paintings and coined the word Orphism to describe Delaunay’s endeavor, which he believed was as independent of descriptive reality as was music (the name derives from Orpheus, the mythological lyre player). Although Simultaneous Windows (2nd Motif, 1st Part) contains a vestigial green profile of the Eiffel Tower, it is one of the artist’s last salutes to representation before his leap to complete abstraction.
The Runners (1926) Endless Rhythm (1934) Rhythms (1934)
Champs de Mars: the Red Tower (1920) Hommage à Blériot (1914, 194x128cm)
2002 Worth a Million the Painting Discovered by a Boy?
A long-forgotten Victorian masterpiece rediscovered by a 10-year-old Connecticut boy in his school library is expected to fetch more than $1 million at a 12 June 2002 auction in London, Christie's announces. In fact it would go for £424'650 (about $660'000)
Bingham Bryant long admired the dusty old painting portraying one of his favorite Greek myths that sat above the bookcase behind the librarian's desk. One day he was moved to tell his antique dealer father about it. After some painstaking research by his father, Christopher Bryant, and a much needed cleaning, the painting -- which had sat in Old Lyme School for nearly 70 years -- was revealed to be Walter Crane's The Fate of Persephone (121x266cm).
Crane [1845-1915] was regarded as the primary painter of the Aesthetics Movement -- which was concerned with design in various mediums -- and painted the piece in 1878.
The painting depicts Pluto, lord of the underworld, and his two rearing black stallions emerging from Hades to abduct Persephone, the goddess of spring, as she picks flowers from a blooming garden.
The schoolboy started the process that unearthed the masterpiece in 2000, when he was in the fifth grade. "I know quite a bit about art and I'm interested in Greek mythology and very classical painting," says Bryant, now a 12-year-old seventh grader at Old Lyme Middle School. "I was sure it was old. I just wasn't sure if it was good or no, so I just told dad."
Christopher Bryant acted on his precocious son's suggestion and had a look. "I realized as soon as I saw it that it was really something quite special and quite wonderful," Bryant found that the painting had been purchased in 1923 by Yale professor Brian Hooker, who lent the work to Old Lyme School in 1935 and never reclaimed it. Bryant tracked down the painting's legal heirs, Hooker's octogenarian daughters, who decided to auction the painting.
"I was really excited," the young Bingham said about finding out the true value of the old painting. "It was very dark and dingy, there was a lot of dust. It was beautiful then and even more beautiful now." The Bryants would not comment on any financial arrangements struck with the Hooker sisters.