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Artists Robert Delaunay

Robert Delaunay

French Painter

Born: April 12, 1885 - Paris, France

Died: October 25, 1941 - Montpellier, France

Quotes

"Painting by nature is a luminous language."
Robert Delaunay
"Light in nature creates movement in color. The movement is provided by the relationships of uneven measures, of colors contrasts among themselves and constitutes Reality."
Robert Delaunay
"'Simultaneousness' is a technique. Simultaneous contrast is the most up-to-date honing of this technique in this field. Simultaneous contrast is visible depth - Reality, Form, construction, representation. Depth is the new inspiration. We live in depth; we travel in depth. I'm in it. The senses are in it. And the mind is too."
Robert Delaunay
"As an artist, as a manual craftsman, I wage my revolution on walls. I have now discovered new materials that can transform a wall, not only externally but in its very substance. Separate man from art? Never. I cannot separate man from art because I build houses for him! Even when fashion dictated easel art, I was already envisaging great murals."
Robert Delaunay
"Vision is the true creative rhythm."
Robert Delaunay
"Nature engenders the science of painting."
Robert Delaunay
"Art in Nature is rhythmic and has a horror of constraint."
Robert Delaunay
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Synopsis

Robert Delaunay's colorful and formally experimental paintings were a unique fusion of early twentieth-century European artistic trends. His best-known works centered on the visually and intellectually stimulating world of Belle Epoque Paris in which he and his wife, Sonia Delaunay (Terk), founded the Orphism movement. The style was distinguished by faceted compositions, vibrant color, and contemporary subject matter that together conveyed delight in the modern life and its technological innovations.

Key Ideas

Influenced by Neo-Impressionism and the painting technique known as pointillism or divisionism, in his early works Delaunay created forms using squares of color that resembled a mosaic. He often left small areas of canvas blank to create a sense of space and light; even at this stage of development his interest in brilliant color was notable.
As his style matured, Delaunay further developed his mosaic-like squares into more complex geometric facets in which both solid objects and their surrounding spaces were fragmented, much like Cubism. These canvases are known for their dynamic sense of movement and their celebration of urban life, particularly Paris with Delaunay's oft-repeated motif of the Eiffel Tower.
Delaunay penned his own theories of color in which he discusses both color as a material form and its great expressive power. He was particularly captivated by how the interaction of various colors generated impressions of movement and depth without allusion to nature. Delaunay wrote that the "breaking up of form by light creates colored planes... [that] are the structure of the picture... nature is no longer a subject for description but a pretext." Eventually, he abandoned "images or reality that come to corrupt the order of color" - thus turning to complete abstraction.

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Most Important Art

L'Homme à la tulipe (Portrait de Jean Metzinger) (1906)
This portrait is one of a series that Delaunay and Metzinger painted of each other during the summer of 1906, many of which have been lost. Delaunay's painting captures both the debonair air of Metzinger and their spirit of collaborative experimentation. This painting shows the influence of Neo-Impressionism and Divisionism on Delaunay's color as well as the influence of artists such as Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet in its unusual perspective. Like Seurat, Delaunay placed complimentary and opposite colors adjacent to each other on the canvas rather than mixing paints on the canvas - creating the effect of a hue and the illusion of depth, while giving the works a sense of static classicism. Delaunay was not a slavish follower of Divisionism, however, since his brushstrokes are freer and less precise, and the color is not dictated by nature but is non-naturalistic, indicating Fauvist influences.
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Biography

Childhood

Robert Delaunay was born in 1885 to eccentric upper class parents, George Delaunay and Berthe Félicie de Rose. His mother, an irresponsible character fond of society life, called herself 'Countess' though the authenticity of her claims to French aristocracy are in question. His early life in Paris was privileged yet strained - his parents divorced when Delaunay was just four years old and he barely saw his father after this. Taken in by his aunt and uncle, he was raised in a grand estate in La Ronchère near Bourges, by coincidence mirroring the childhood experience of his future wife, Sonia, also brought up by a wealthy uncle and aunt in St Petersburg.

Early Training

The young Delaunay was a lackluster student, spending classes painting with watercolors behind his desk lid. He lacked formal artistic training, but was sent by his uncle to Ronsin's Atelier, to apprentice in theatre design at Belleville. Here he learned to create large scale theatre sets, which would inform his later stage and mural work.

In 1903 Delaunay traveled to Brittany, where he became acquainted with Henri Rousseau and turned to painting, inspired initially by the work of the Pont Aven Group who had painted there from 1886-88. On returning to Paris, Delaunay met artist, Jean Metzinger. The two became close friends and produced a series of small mosaic-like compositions inspired by the Divisionist techniques of Georges Seurat. Their experiments were noted in an article by the critic Louis Vauxcelles in 1907.

In 1909 Delaunay chanced upon a passionate young artist named Sonia Terk, who went on to become his wife and collaborator for the next 30 years, forming one of the most remarkable creative partnerships in art history. A wealthy Russian emigre who had recently come to Paris to train at the Academy de la Palais, Terk was already married to the homosexual German art critic and gallery owner, Wilhelm Uhde in a marriage of convenience. She and Robert began a passionate affair and when she became pregnant, Uhde willingly consented to a divorce. She married Delaunay the following year and quickly realized that the impetuous and childlike Delaunay would not be a conventional husband or father: for the majority of their married life, she would be the main breadwinner for their family. The newlyweds rented an apartment on the Rue des Grandes Augustins, the same street where Pablo Picasso lived, and embraced the exciting new world around them. They painted together, drawing inspiration from the vivid colors and patterns they saw in the electric lights on the Boulevard St Michel, where they strolled in the evenings.'We breathed painting like others lived in alcohol or crime,' Sonia was to later write in her diary.

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Robert Delaunay Biography Continues

Mature Period

Pre World War I Paris was at the epicenter of the avant-garde movement. Delaunay immersed himself in the world of aesthetic discovery, innovation, and experimentation that was exploding around him. He exhibited alongside many of the key players in Paris at the Salon D'Automne (1903,1906) and at the Salon des Independants from 1904 -14, developing an increasing fascination with color as a subject in itself. He sought to interpret the modern city through color and rhythm. In 1911, Sonia gave birth to their only son, Charles, and a year later, at age 27, Delaunay had his first solo show at the Galerie Barbazanger in Paris. His work was admired by German Expressionists Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke and Franz Marc. In 1912, he was invited by Kandinsky to exhibit at the first Blaue Reiter exhibition in Germany, as well as to contribute to Der Sturm, the prestigious almanac produced by the group.

Delaunay believed in gestural, grandiose painting and would have frenzied periods of productivity, working from dawn till dusk, sometimes not bathing for days. In between these bouts, he would not touch a brush, instead taking long walks and taking care of his plants. His Eiffel tower series painted during this time gained considerable attention from the art world, leading to inclusions in major exhibitions and group shows in Europe, notably in the Cubist Room at the Salon des Independents with Metzinger. Following this show, his work became increasingly non-objective leading to the emergence of motifs that Delaunay is known for today such as spinning circles and the geometric forms of his windows. In response to his work, critic Andre Warnod wrote of a 'blossoming new school' that broke with the art of Cubism. The same year his close friend and poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, coined the term 'Orphism' to describe Delaunay's paintings, as well as those of Sonia and artist, Frantisek Kupka. The name, derived from the Greek mythological lyre-playing Orpheus likened the painters' energy to a primal urge for creation. Apollinaire also wrote that Picasso occupied one camp and Delaunay the other - with Kandinsky and Duchamp as his followers. This over embellishment of his achievements caused a stir. In fact, Delaunay preferred to call his work 'simultaneous' rather than 'orphic', as he felt this evoked the spirit of the new age, but this too caused controversy for Delaunay as the Italian Futurists claimed this concept as their own.

Though Delaunay had gained support for his work, his attention-seeking, outspoken personality was exhausting and Sonia often had to mediate when he antagonized others with egocentric claims such as 'before me color was only coloring'. Gertrude Stein captured his personality succinctly when she wrote: 'he sees himself as a grand solitary figure when in reality he's an endless chatterbox who will tell anyone about himself and his significance any time of day or night'. During this period, Delaunay's short temper alienated both students and colleagues.

Sonia Delaunay designed dress

On Sundays the Delaunay's opened up their home to artists, poets, musicians, and writers that included Henri Rousseau, Metzinger, Guillaume Apollinaire, Fernand Léger, Albert Gleizes, Henri Le Facconnier, and Blaise Cendrars. On Thursdays the group would dance at the Bal Bullier in Montparnasse, turning up late to make an entrance wearing the outlandish simultaneous designs created by Sonia. The Delaunays were always center stage with Sonia in elaborate multi colored dresses and Robert in matching suits of scarlet, green, and other garish colors. The group would also wear multi colored socks so they could dance the tango with no shoes. Their outfits were described as 'Futuristic' by Giacomo Balla and attracted international media attention; Sonia's designs were described by Apollinaire as turning 'fantasy into elegance'. Like the Futurists, Robert was obsessed with the new era of technology and speed, and would frequently visit the St Cloud airship outside Paris. From here came the inspired work 'Homage to Bleriot' in 1914- an 'allegory of the new age' as well as an illustration of his theory that color could become form and subject.

The Delaunays were on vacation when World War I broke out in August 1914, but unlike the others in their circle they stayed as far from the fighting as possible, firstly in Portugal then in neutral Northern Spain. Robert did finally enlist in 1916, but was declared unfit for service due to a large heart and collapsed lung. In 1917, Sonia's income was cut off at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and she turned to fashion design to provide for her family, setting up her own boutique, Casa Sonia. This proved a lucrative period for both artists when Robert met the Russian exile, Serge Diaghilev and the rest of the Ballet Russe, which had been somewhat depleted by war. Robert was commissioned to design and make the stage set for their next performance while Sonia created the costumes.

In 1920 the Delaunays returned to Paris, where Sonia established herself as a successful fashion designer, so Robert could pursue his art. They rented a grand apartment and resumed their Sunday salons - pulling in a new group of young artists including Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, and Jean and Sophie Arp. The apartment became a living, breathing simultaneous artwork as their Dada and Surrealist friends adorned the walls with paintings, poems, and signatures. However, as always they were living beyond their means and bailiffs were frequent visitors to the apartment; in 1922 money was so tight that Sonia had to sell their Henri Rousseau painting The Snake Charmer to the Louvre for 50,000 francs. With this Robert bought their first car, and in doing so found the one pastime that would relax him - driving. The Delaunays were known for their progressiveness- owning a car, telephone, and radio before any of their friends as well as being the first to re-establish links with German artists after World War I. However, artistically Robert was lagging behind his entrepreneurial wife - he had not exhibited since 1913 except for a solo show in 1922 that had little success despite the loyal attendance of his new Surrealist friends.

Late Years and Death

By the mid 1930s, Robert's reputation had dwindled and he was in a cycle of producing unfinished works that lacked conviction. He spent time conducting his, what seemed to be fruitless, research into developing new pigments and using stone and sand to make lacquer. During the late 1920s he had turned to figurative work, then back to complete abstraction. A low point was the creation of a nude for the lounge of the embassy room at the Exposition Universale of 1925, which was deemed inappropriate and taken down. The same year they both turned 40 and Sonia - now a very successful designer who ran 30 boutiques, began to pine for the painting of her earlier career. Robert encouraged this return to intellectual curiosity saying, ' to produce is great, but we must also promote our ideas'. With the crash of Wall Street in 1929, fashion couture declined as it became 'bad taste to look rich'. Sonia made the decision to close her boutique and the couple gave up their apartment, declaring 'We'll paint and we'll live like before'.

Money was tight and both artists were encouraged to register for unemployment by friends, but Robert's pride prevented this. The couple joined the Abstraction Creation group in 1932 and four years later were invited to take part in the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne of 1937, with an emphasis on public art. Robert took charge of the project, working with fifty unemployed artists in a large garage to produce huge murals for the aeronautical pavilion, with the theme of the romance of railway travel. During this period they 'lived like monks' according to Sonia, with Robert showing a renewed energy and commitment to the project. His previous experiments with stone proved to be invaluable as he developed ways to produce murals that were resilient to the elements. The show was a success, and Robert's pavilion received very positive reviews by those who saw it. However, it was overshadowed by the overwhelming success of Picasso's Guernica in the same show - adding fuel to the longstanding envy he had for the Spanish artist.

Robert and Sonia Delaunay

The International Exposition brought the Delaunays back in demand and a year later, Robert produced what would be his last series- decorations for the Sculpture Hall at Salon des Tuileries. With these successes behind them, the couple made exciting plans to travel to New York, but timing was against them and with World War II looming they fled to the South of France to avoid the Nazi invasion. The move was detrimental to Robert's deteriorating health and he died from cancer in 1941 in Montpellier, France. Sonia went on to live for another thirty years, and with their son, Charles, managed Robert's estate, and paid tribute to Robert's memory through her work.


Legacy

Robert Delaunay's reputation fluctuated throughout his life and after his death, so it is a challenge to map his legacy in modern art history. However, it is without a doubt in the heady pre-World War I days that his influence on other artists and writers was most pronounced. His text 'Note on the Construction of Reality in Pure Painting' (1912) was seen by many critics as fundamental in the evolution of abstract art theory; in one article Apollinaire even credits Delaunay with influencing Picasso's use of light. Whether or not this was entirely accurate, it is certain that during 1912-13 Delaunay was seen by many as occupying a contradictory and equivocal position in relation to Cubism, something which inspired young artists looking for new directions. One such example was the young American, Morgan Russell, who saw the vibrant color harmonies of Delaunay's canvases in 1912. Soon afterwards, Russell founded the Synchronist movement with Stanton McDonald Wright, which expanded on the color theory of Michel Chevreul and Ogden Rood, as Delaunay himself had done. Later however, Russell and Wright denied all connections with Orphism.

Similarly contentious was Delaunay's relationship to Futurism. His incorporation of modern architecture into a fragmented, dynamic pictorial space suggests a role in the development of Futurist visual language, particularly evident in Umberto Boccioni's Simultaneous Visions (1912). The Italian artist had in fact visited Paris in 1911 and would have seen Delaunay's Saint Severin and Eiffel Tower series. At the time both movements rejected any comparison but after the artist's death, Fernand Leger was to declare 'It was with Robert Delaunay on our side that we joined the battle' [towards abstraction] (1949).

After Delaunay exhibited his work at the first Der Blaue Reiter exhibition, he caused a stir : the blocks of vivid color Klee went on to employ in his Tunisian watercolors (1914) are reminiscent of Delaunay's Windows series, and critic, Theodore Daubler, actually referred to him as the 'first known Expressionist' in 1916. Other commentators point to links with Die Brucke. For Mark Rosenthal, the distorted expressionist forms in Delaunay's Saint Severin can be clearly seen in the art of Lyonel Feininger, Ernst Kirchner's street scenes, and in the film sets for Robert Weine's Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920).

Delaunay's close connections with Kandinsky, Hans Hoffman, and Diego Rivera during his lifetime also suggest a possible link with Abstract Expressionism, as these were all prominent figures in the development of the New York School in the 1940s. Delaunay's innovative use of encaustic wax (developed when he had no access to art materials in Spain), large scale architectural painting (The City of Paris, the 1930s murals) and color as a vehicle for expression can be indirectly linked to the work of Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko.

By 1945, just four years after his death, Delaunay's name was virtually unknown. His wife, Sonia, was by then well-established in her design career and she worked tirelessly to restore her late husband's reputation as a pioneer of abstract art. She persuaded galleries to show his work and in 1963 donated 114 of his works to the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, helping to place his name back in the public consciousness. However, it is in her vast body of work where his most direct legacy lies. She kept their shared theories of simultaneity alive through her prolific production of clothing, household objects, book binding, fabrics, and painting, all characterized by colorful abstract forms that were reminiscent of Robert's earlier Orphic works.

Influences and Connections

Influences on artist

Artists, Friends, Movements

Influenced by artist

Artists, Friends, Movements

Robert Delaunay
Interactive chart with Robert Delaunay's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul Gauguin
Henri Rousseau
Georges Seurat
Claude Monet
Pablo Picasso

Friends

Guillaume Apollinaire
Blaise Cendrars
Sonia Delaunay

Movements

Symbolism
Fauvism
Pointillism
Robert Delaunay
Robert Delaunay
Years Worked: 1885 - 1941

Artists

Paul Klee
August Macke
Marc Chagall
Wassily Kandinsky
Diego Rivera

Friends

Guillaume Apollinaire
Albert Gleizes
Jacques Villon
Igor Stravinsky
Sergei Diaghilev

Movements

Der Blaue Reiter
Post-Painterly Abstraction
Abstract Expressionism



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Useful Resources on Robert Delaunay

Books
Websites
Articles
Videos
More
The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.
biography
1906-1914 De L'Impressionisme a L'Abstraction

By Pascal Rousseau, Jean-Paul Ameline

written by artist
The New Art of Color (The Documents of 20th-century art)

By Robert Delaunay, Sophie Delaunay, and Arthur A. Cohon

More Interesting Books about Robert Delaunay
Envisioning Abstraction: The Simultaneity of Robert Delaunay's First Disk

By Gordon Hughes
The Art Bulletin
2007

Sonia Delaunay

By David Seidner
BOMB Magazine
July, 1981

transcripts
Archive Grid

Papers relating to Sonia and Robert Delaunay, ca. 1960-1981

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Cite this page

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Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delauney with her husband Robert Delauney, began the Orphism art movement during the pre-War period, characterized by its use of strong color palettes and geometric, abstract forms. Delaunay's work also popularly incorporated the use of fabric, furniture design and clothing.
TheArtStory: Sonia Delaunay
Orphism
Orphism
Orphism
Orphism - a term coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire - was a little known art movement during the time of Cubism that focused on pure abstraction and bright colors influenced by Fauvism and the dye chemist Eugène Chevreul. This movement was pioneered by the Delaunays, a couple who relaunched the use of color during the monochromatic Cubist movement.
Orphism
Neo-Impressionism
Neo-Impressionism
Neo-Impressionism
Neo-Impressionism was an art movement founded by Georges Seurat in the 1880s. It brought a new and quasi-scientific approach to the Impressionists' interests in light and color, along with new approaches to the application of paint, sometimes in dots and dashes. Its followers were drawn to modern urban scenes as well as landscapes and seascapes.
Neo-Impressionism
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907-1911, and it continued to be highly influential long after its decline. This classic phase has two stages: 'Analytic', in which forms seem to be 'analyzed' and fragmented; and 'Synthetic', in which pre-existing materials such as newspaper and wood veneer are collaged to the surface of the canvas.
TheArtStory: Cubism
Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau
Henri Rousseau was a French self-taught painter. His most famous works, done in his characteristic flat figurative style, show surreal and dream-like scenes in primitive or natural settings.
TheArtStory: Henri Rousseau
Jean Metzinger
Jean Metzinger
Jean Metzinger
Jean Metzinger was a French artist who was initially influenced by Fauvism and Impressionism, but then turned to Cubism. Metzinger was a member of the Section d'Or group of artists. In 1912, together with Albert Gleizes, he created the first major treatise on Cubism, Du Cubisme.
Jean Metzinger
Divisionism
Divisionism
Divisionism
Divisionism was the characteristic style in Neo-Impressionist painting defined by the separation of colors into individual dots or patches which interacted optically. Georges Seurat founded the style and believed it achieved the maximum luminosity scientifically possible.
Divisionism
Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter who gave rise to the Post- and Neo-Impressionist artistic styles of the late nineteenth century. Seurat's greatest contribution to modern art was his development of Pointillism, a style of painting in which small dots of paint were applied to create a cohesive image. Combining the science of optics with painterly emotion, Pointillism evoked a visual harmony never before seen in modern art.
TheArtStory: Georges Seurat
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Picasso dominated European painting in the first half of the last century, and remains perhaps the century's most important, prolifically inventive, and versatile artist. Alongside Georges Braque, he pioneered Cubism. He also made significant contributions to Surrealist painting and media such as collage, welded sculpture, and ceramics.
TheArtStory: Pablo Picasso
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism is a broad term for a host of movements in early twentieth-century Germany and beyond, from Die Brücke (1905) and Der Blaue Reiter (1911) to the early Neue Sachlichkeit painters in the 1920s and '30s. Many Expressionists used vivid colors and abstracted forms to create spiritually or psychologically intense works, while others focused on depictions of war, alienation, and the modern city.
TheArtStory: Expressionism
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky
A member of the German Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter, and later a teacher at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky is best known for his pioneering breakthrough into expressive abstraction in 1913. His work prefigures that of the American Abstract Expressionists.
TheArtStory: Wassily Kandinsky
August Macke
August Macke
August Macke
August Macke was a German painter and a leader in the Expressionist group The Blue Rider. A close friend of Franz Marc, Paul Klee and Robert Delaunay, Macke's paintings were more Post-Impressionist and Fauvist in style, but were very expressive in terms of color and mood. Macke was killed on the front lines during World War I, at the age of 27.
August Macke
Franz Marc
Franz Marc
Franz Marc
Franz Marc was a German painter and printmaker, and one of the pioneers of German Expressionism. Along with August Macke and Kandinksy, Marc founded The Blue Rider artist group. A student of Futurism and Cubism, Marc was a master of color and depth, and a major influence on mid-twentieth-century abstractionists.
TheArtStory: Franz Marc
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire
Guillaume Apollinaire was a French writer and art critic who in the early twentieth century was a member of the avant-garde group of artists based in the Montparnasse community of Paris, which included Picasso, André Breton and Henri Rousseau. He is credited with coining the term "Surrealism."
Guillaume Apollinaire
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer and supporter of the arts whose Paris salons were key sites for avant-garde art in the early twentieth century. She built one of the earliest collections of modern art, including works by Matisse, Picasso, Braque, and others.
Gertrude Stein
Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
Influenced by Cubism and Futurism, the French painter Fernand Léger developed a unique style of Cubism using cylindrical and other geometric forms with mechanically smooth edges. Often colorful and punctuated by patterns, his paintings range from still lifes and figures to abstract compositions.
TheArtStory: Fernand Léger
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French poet, playwright, and avant-garde performer who played a key role in the development and founding of Dada. A proponent of pure automatic techniques, he had an at-times contentious relationship with the Surrealism's direction in Paris.
TheArtStory: Tristan Tzara
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia was a French artist who worked in Dada, Surrealist, and abstract modes, often employing language and mechanical imagery. He published the Dada journal 391 in Barcelona and America.
TheArtStory: Francis Picabia
André Breton
André Breton
André Breton
André Breton, author of the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, was an influential theorizer of both Dada and Surrealism. Born in France, he emigrated to New York during World War II, where he greatly influenced the Abstract Expressionists.
TheArtStory: André Breton
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist, and filmmaker. Along with other avant-garde artists of his generation Cocteau grappled to define the paradox of classical avant-garde. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, and Coco Chanel.
Jean Cocteau
Hans Arp
Hans Arp
Hans Arp
Hans Arp (also known as Jean Arp) was a German-French artist who incorporated chance, randomness, and organic forms into his sculptures, paintings, and collages. He was involved with Zurich Dada, Surrealism, and the Abstraction-Creation movement.
TheArtStory: Hans Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Sophie Taeuber-Arp was a Swiss artist, painter, sculptor, and dancer who is considered to be one of the most important artists of geometric abstraction of the twentieth century. Arp was married to Jean Arp, the major Dada artist, and the two worked together until her early death.
TheArtStory: Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Dada
Dada
Dada
Dada was an artistic and literary movement that emerged in 1916. It arose in reaction to World War I, and the nationalism and rationalism that many thought had led to the War. Influenced by several avant-gardes - Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, and Expressionism - its output was wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting and collage. Emerging first in Zurich, it spread to cities including Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York and Cologne.
TheArtStory: Dada
Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism
Perhaps the most influential avant-garde movement of the century, Surrealism was founded in Paris in 1924 by a small group of writers and artists who sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination. Much influenced by Freud, they believed that the conscious mind repressed the power of the imagination. Influenced also by Marx, they hoped that the psyche had the power to reveal the contradictions in the everyday world and spur on revolution.
TheArtStory: Surrealism
Futurism
Futurism
Futurism
Futurism was the most influential Italian avant-garde movement of the twentieth century. Dedicated to the modern age, it celebrated speed, movement, machinery and violence. At first influenced by Neo-Impressionism, and later by Cubism, some of its members were also drawn to mass culture and nontraditional forms of art.
TheArtStory: Futurism
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni was an Italian painter and sculptor. Like the other Futurists, his work centered on the portrayal of movement (dynamism), speed, and technology. After moving to Milan in 1907, he became acquainted with the Futurists, including the famous poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and became one of the movement's main theorists.
TheArtStory: Umberto Boccioni
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter
Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) was a group of Expressionist painters in Munich, Germany consisting principally of Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky,Germans Auguste Macke, and Franz Marc. Key interests among them were the aesthetics of primitivism and spiritualism, as well as growing trends in Fauvism and Cubism, which led Kandinsky, chief among the Expressionist artists, to experiment more with abstract art.
TheArtStory: Der Blaue Reiter
Die Brücke
Die Brücke
Die Brücke
Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a group of German Expressionist artists that banded together in Dresden in 1905. The group, which includes artists such as Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Emil Nolde, had a major impact on the evolution of modern art in the twentieth century and the creation of Expressionism. Die Bruke artists' used bold colors to depicts gritty scene of city life.
TheArtStory: Die Brücke
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was one of the driving forces in the Die Brücke group that flourished in Dresden and Berlin before WWI, and one of the most talented and influential of the Expressionists.
TheArtStory: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock was the most well-known Abstract Expressionist and the key example of Action Painting. His work ranges from Jungian scenes of primitive rites to the purely abstract "drip paintings" of his later career.
TheArtStory: Jackson Pollock
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman
Barnett Newman was an Abstract Expressonist painter in New York who painted large-scale fields of solid color, interrupted by vertical lines or "zips." His sometimes narrow or boxy canvases, part painting and part sculpture, were influential for Minimalism.
TheArtStory: Barnett Newman
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko was an Abstract Expressionist painter whose early interest in mythic landscapes gave way to mature works featuring large, hovering blocks of color on colored grounds.
TheArtStory: Mark Rothko
Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin was a French Post-Impressionist artist who employed color fields and painterly strokes in his work. He is best known for his primitivist depictions of native life in Tahiti and Polynesia.
TheArtStory: Paul Gauguin
Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a French artist who helped pioneer the painterly effects and emphasis on light, atmosphere, and plein air technique that became hallmarks of Impressionism. He is especially known for his series of haystacks and cathedrals at different times of day, and for his late Waterlilies.
TheArtStory: Claude Monet
Blaise Cendrars
Blaise Cendrars
Blaise Cendrars
Blaise Cendrars was a Swiss-born French novelist and poet. Cendrars' took a modernist approach to writing, creating the "simultaneous poem," wherein his prose was intended to complement specific artists or works of art.
Blaise Cendrars
Symbolism
Symbolism
Symbolism
Symbolism is an artistic and literary movement that first emerged in France in the 1880s. In the visual arts it is often considered part of Post-Impressionism. It is characterized by an emphasis on the mystical, romantic and expressive, and often by the use of symbolic figures.
TheArtStory: Symbolism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism
Fauvism was an early twentieth-century art movement founded by Henri Matisse and André Derain. Labeled as "wild beasts", Fauve artists favored vibrant colors and winding gestural strokes across the canvas.
TheArtStory: Fauvism
Pointillism
Pointillism
Pointillism
Pointillism is a mode of art-making, first developed in 1880s France, in which all of the paint is applied to the surface as tiny points or daubs of color. Based on the laws of color theory, pointillism relies on the viewer's eye to mix the disparate dots into the lines, shapes, shadings, and color ranges of the full scene.
Pointillism
Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee
The Swiss-born painter Paul Klee worked in a variety of styles, including Expressionism, geometric abstraction, and collage. His most famous works have a mystical quality and make use of linear and pictorial symbols.
TheArtStory: Paul Klee
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall was a Russian-born, Jewish-French artist that reached great popularity during the twentieth century. Although his art is associated with several movements, Chagall is commonly grouped in with the German Expressionists. Much of his early work was credited with synthesizing visual elements of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism.
TheArtStory: Marc Chagall
Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera was the principal actor in the Mexican Muralism movement and one of Mexico's greatest artists. His large-scale fresco cycles tell the histories of labor, industry, society, and other themes.
TheArtStory: Diego Rivera
Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes
Albert Gleizes was a French artist, philosopher, and a self-proclaimed founder of Cubism. A member and founder of several different art movements, Gleizes, along with Jeane Metzinger, wrote the first treatise on Cubism, Du Cubismbe, in 1912. Gleizes was a friend and collaborator of many Paris-based artists including Metzinger, Fernand Leger, and Robert Delaunay. Gleize is best known for his Cubist works, including Les Baigneuses, et Le Depiquage des Moissons (Harvest Threshing).
Albert Gleizes
Jacques Villon
Jacques Villon
Jacques Villon
Jacques Villon was a French painter and printmaker. Brother of Marcel Duchamp, Villon was part of the vibrant and innovative art scene in Paris, exhibiting with Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Francis Picabia, Robert Delaunay, and Fernand Leger. Villon painted in a Cubist style, and his works were shown at the famous 1913 Armory Show in New York City. Some of his best known works areDining Table, and L'Acrobate.
Jacques Villon
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky was a Russian pianist and composer who is considered to be one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. He began his career composing for ballets, including The Rite of Spring, which had a lasting impact on musical composition and solidified Stravinksy's reputation as a musical revolutionary. Stravinsky continued to innovate, delving into different musical styles, which have been categorized as the Russian Period, the Neoclassical Period, and the Serial Period.
Igor Stravinsky
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would rise. The end of the nineteenth century brought changes in harmonic and metric devices. They became either more rigid, or much more unpredictable, and each approach had a liberating effect on rhythm, which also affected ballet. Diaghilev was a pioneer in adapting these new musical styles to modern ballet.
Sergei Diaghilev
Post-Painterly Abstraction
Post-Painterly Abstraction
Post-Painterly Abstraction
Post-painterly abstraction was a term developed by critic Clement Greenberg in 1964 to describe a diverse range of abstract painters who rejected the gestural styles of the Abstract Expressionists and favored instead what he called "openness or clarity." Painters as different as Ellsworth Kelly and Helen Frankenthaler were described by the term. Some employed geometric form, others veils of stained color.
TheArtStory: Post-Painterly Abstraction
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
Abstract Expressionism
A tendency among New York painters of the late 1940s and '50s, all of whom were committed to an expressive art of profound emotion and universal themes. The movement embraced the gestural abstraction of Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and the color field painting of Mark Rothko and others. It blended elements of Surrealism and abstract art in an effort to create a new style fitted to the postwar mood of anxiety and trauma.
TheArtStory: Abstract Expressionism
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