Robert Delaunay: Eiffel Tower (c.1925)

1950-134-43acrop-CX
Robert Delaunay, (French, 1885 – 1941), Eiffel Tower, c.1925, Oil on burlap,(130.8 x 31.7 cm), The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Who is Robert Delaunay?

Robert Delaunay (1885 – 1941) is a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, co-founded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee. Delaunay’s key influence relates to bold use of colour and a clear love of experimentation with both depth and tone. (wikipedia)

Orphism is distinguished by “faceted compositions, vibrant color, and contemporary subject matter that together conveyed delight in the modern life and its technological innovations.” (TheArtStory.)

Though Delaunay’s paintings draw praise, his narcissistic need to be the center of attention causes conflict with family and colleagues. According to The Art Story,

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’.”

Screenshot_2018-12-05 Edit Post ‹ At Sunnyside - Where Truth and Beauty Meet — WordPress com
Robert Delaunay, (French, 1885 – 1941), Eiffel Tower, c.1925, Oil on burlap,(130.8 x 31.7 cm), The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art. (detail).

Cacophony of Contrasts: Size, Color, Style

What better shape for a painting of the Eiffel Tower than a towering rectangle whose perspective makes the viewer feel pea-sized?

According to Emily Hage, as quoted from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007, p. 152) from Philadelphia Museum of Art,

Painted in a striking bright orange with swirling circles of red, yellow, blue, and green consuming its apex, the tower rises above the cacophony of Paris’s cityscape. The small Neoclassical building on the right highlights the structure’s striking modernity and calls attention to its extraordinary height, while the large-scale abstracted female nude in the foreground appears as a symbol of nature in opposition to the technological advancement represented by the tower.” (2007, p.,152).

2Screenshot_2018-12-05 Edit Post ‹ At Sunnyside - Where Truth and Beauty Meet — WordPress com
Robert Delaunay, (French, 1885 – 1941), Eiffel Tower, c.1925, Oil on burlap,(130.8 x 31.7 cm), The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art. (detail).

What About This ‘Eiffel Tower’?

According to the Philadelphia Museum of Art,

This is a study for a painting that Robert Delaunay contributed to Robert Mallet-Stevens’s hall for a model French embassy at the 1925 Paris International Decorative Arts Exhibition. The conservative exhibition commissioner judged the work too modern and removed it just prior to the opening. After the decision prompted a wave of protests by the Paris cultural community, the painting was reinstalled.

Delaunay and the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower had captured Delaunay’s imagination since the landmark’s construction when he was a small child. Ms. Hage writes that Delaunay “completed more than thirty drawings and paintings”, adding, “He particularly admired the geometric clarity and psychological impact of the tower, which remained the tallest structure in the world throughout his lifetime.”  (2007, p. 152).

 

3Screenshot_2018-12-05 Edit Post ‹ At Sunnyside - Where Truth and Beauty Meet — WordPress com
Robert Delaunay, (French, 1885 – 1941), Eiffel Tower, c.1925, Oil on burlap,(130.8 x 31.7 cm), The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Summary of Details

  • Artist:  Robert Delaunay, (French, 1885 – 1941)
  • Spouse: Sonia Delaunay theartstory.org
  • Movement: co-founded the Orphism art movement
  • Title:  Eiffel Tower, c.1925
  • Geography: Made in France, Europe
  • Date: c. 1925
  • Medium: Oil on burlap
  • Dimensions: 51 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches (130.8 x 31.7 cm)
  • Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Credit Line: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950.
  • Robert Delaunay (12 April 1885 – 25 October 1941) was a French artist who, with his wife Sonia Delaunay and others, co-founded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. His later works were more abstract, reminiscent of Paul Klee. His key influence related to bold use of colour and a clear love of experimentation with both depth and tone. (wikipedia)

 

Sources

Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 152, quoted at Philadelphia Museum of Art website, http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/51349.html (accessed 30 Oct 2018).

Wikipedia contributors, “Robert Delaunay,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_Delaunay&oldid=866605234 (accessed October 31, 2018).

Sarah Jenkins, “Robert Delaunay Artist Overview and Analysis“. [Internet]. 2018. TheArtStory.org , Content compiled and written by Sarah Jenkins, Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors, https://www.theartstory.org/artist-delaunay-robert.htm [Accessed 05 Dec 2018].

Read More

 

Thanks for Reading! 🙂

The End

2 Comments Add yours

  1. penwithlit says:

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Pylons and steel towers very popular in the intter-war years.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s