Robert Delaunay

Robert Delaunay

Style: Cubism

Lived: April 12, 1885 - October 25, 1941 (20th century)

Nationality: France


Robert Delaunay was born April 12, 1885 in Paris (France) into a prominent French aristocratic family. When Robert was 4 years old, his parents divorced and he was subsequently raised by an aunt and uncle. Robert wasn't highly interested in school, so in 1903 he signed up for an apprenticeship in a studio for theater sets in Belleville.


In 1903, without any real artistic education, Robert Delaunay started painting and already started exhiting in 1904. Delaunay would continue to exhibit at the Salon d’Automne and at the Salon des Indépendants until World War I began. During this period Robert Delaunay became good friends with Henri Rousseau and Jean Metzinger.

Robert Delaunay was painting in a neo-impressionistic style, till he got into contact with the cubist art group in Paris in 1908. This would lead him to his own personal style, orphic cubism. The main idea about his orphism was that not the object defined the picture, but movement, light, and rhythm.

In 1910 he married Sonja Terk, and the couple settled in a studio apartment in Paris, where they later had a son. At the invitation of Wassily Kandinsky, Delaunay joined Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), a Munich-based group of abstract artists, in 1911. With this, his art took a turn for the abstract.

The outbreak of the First World War found the couple vacationing in Spain, and they settled with friends in Portugal for the duration of the conflict. During this period, the couple took on several jobs designing costumes for the Madrid Opera, and Sonia Delaunay started a fashion design business of her own.


After the war, in 1921, they returned to Paris. Delaunay continued to work in a mostly abstract style. During the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, Delaunay participated in the design of the railway and air travel pavilions.

When World War II erupted, the Delaunays moved to the Auvergne, in an effort to avoid the invading German forces. Suffering from cancer, Delaunay was unable to stand being moved around, and his health deteriorated. He died October 25, 1941 in Montpellier.

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