Artist biography

Robert Delaunay 1885-1941

French painter, born in Paris. Apprenticed for two years to a theatrical designer, then began to paint. Influenced by Neo-Impressionism 1906-7, afterwards by Cézanne; a friend of Metzinger and the Douanier Rousseau. Series of pictures of 'Saint-Séverin', 'The Eiffel Tower' and 'The City'. Married the painter Sonia Terk in 1910. Exhibited in the Cubist room at the Salon des Indépendants in 1911 with Metzinger, Gleizes, Léger and Le Fauconnier. Started to use pure colours again early in 1912 and at the end of the same year painted his first 'Disc' and 'Circular Forms', his first abstract pictures. First one-man exhibition at the Galeries Barbazanges, Paris, 1912. His work was much admired in Paris by Apollinaire, who gave it the name Orphism, and in Germany by Klee, Macke and Marc. Lived in Spain and Portugal during the First World War; returned to Paris in 1920. After painting various figurative themes such as nude women reading, runners and portraits, he returned in 1930 to complete abstraction and made numerous compositions with circular discs and colour rhythms, sometimes in low relief. Executed with assistants huge panels and coloured reliefs for the Aeronautics pavilion at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition. Died at Montpellier.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.158