Art Term


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

Robert Delaunay
Endless Rhythm (1934)

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.

  • Simultanism

    Term invented by artist Robert Delaunay to describe the abstract painting developed by him and his wife Sonia Delaunay from about 1910

  • Réalités nouvelles

    The Salon des Réalités nouvelles (new realities) was an exhibiting society devoted to pure abstract art founded in Paris in 1939

  • Abstract art

    Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect

  • Complementary colours

    Complementary colours are pairs of colours that contrast with each other more than any other colour, and when placed side-by-side make each other look brighter

explore this term

selected artists in the collection

orphism at tate

  • Tate Modern

    The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay

    15 Apr – 9 Aug 2015

    This is the first UK retrospective to assess the breadth of Sonia Delaunay's vibrant artistic practice across a wide range of media. Tate Modern, 15 April – 9 August 2015

  • Tate Liverpool + RIBA North

    Chagall: Modern Master

    8 Jun – 6 Oct 2013

    Chagall: Modern Master exhibition at Tate Liverpool 8 June – 6 October 2013 brings together paintings and works on paper from across the world