Orphism was an abstract, cubist influenced painting style developed by Robert and Sonia Delaunay around 1912

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In the Delaunays’ work patches of subtle and beautiful colour are brought together to create harmonious compositions.

The term, sometimes called orphic cubism, was coined around 1912–13 by the French poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire and used to distinguish their work from cubism generally. The name comes from the legendary ancient Greek poet and musician Orpheus. Its use by Apollinaire relates to the idea that painting should be like music, which was an important element in the development of abstract art. Robert Delaunay himself used the term simultanism to describe his work.

Sonia Delaunay in focus

The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay
This exhibition which is at Tate Modern until August 2015, is the first UK retrospective to assess the breadth of Delaunay’s vibrant artistic practice across a wide range of media. Take a look at what artworks are on display.

Who is Sonia Delaunay?
Read our article which introduces the artist, her key pieces and her views on use of colour and religion.

Love, friendship and rivalry: Delaunay’s circle
We look at Delaunay’s social circle in Paris and three men who greatly influenced her – Wilhelm Uhde, Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars.

‘We will go right up to the sun’
Read our Tate Etc. article about the life and work of Sonia Delaunay, written by Juliet Bingham, curator of The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay. 

Other perspectives

Pure explosions of finesse
Tate Etc. asked fashion designer Duro Olowu to talk about his long admiration for Sonia Delauney. 

The multi-talented Delaunay
Tate Etc. asked fellow artist, Sheila Hicks, to talk about her long admiration for Delaunay.

The Art of Instagram: Tanya Ling
Inspired by Sonia Delaunay’s use of pattern and colour, artist Tanya Ling takes over Tate’s Instagram discusses her manipulation of the grid format to produce compositions that combine illustration, painting, sculpture and photography

Pinterest: Pattern Power
Take a look at out our Sonia Delaunay-inspired Pinterest board, pinned by Tate and guest influential pinners.

Related glossary terms

Réalités nouvelles, simultanism, abstract art, complementary colours