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Entries in Orphism (4)


August Macke: Feelings and Moods

August Macke - Lady in a Park - 1914 - Oil on canvas - 38 1/2 x 23 1/4" (97.8 x 58.9 cm) - MoMA, New York (click photo for larger image)German Expressionist painter August Macke (1887-1914) was a member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) organization of artists, based in Germany, that contributed greatly to the development of abstract art. He lived most of his creative life in Bonn, with the exception of a few periods spent in Switzerland and various trips to Paris, Italy, the Netherlands and Tunisia. His style was formed within the mode of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and he later went through a Fauve period, which greatly influenced him throughout his life. In 1909, through fellow artist Franz Marc, he met Wassily Kandinsky—both featured elsewhere on this site. For a time, Macke shared the non-objective aesthetic and the mystical and symbolic interests of Der Blaue Reiter.

Macke's meeting with Robert Delaunay (also discussed on this site) in Paris in 1912 was something of an epiphany for him. Delaunay's chromatic Cubism (labeled Orphism) influenced Macke's art from that point forward. The exotic atmosphere of Tunisia, where Macke traveled in April 1914 was also fundamental to the luminist approach of Macke’s final period, during which he produced a series of works now considered masterpieces. His later works focus primarily on representing emotions and moods, in part through a distortion of color and form. The influence of Fauvism remains evident throughout his oeuvre—as you will observe in the work featured here. 

Sadly, Macke died at the front during WWI—an artist lost far too soon.


Francis Picabia - An Explorer

Francis Picabia - Hera, c. 1929, oil on cardboard, 105 × 75 cm. - Private collectionThere are some artists who prefer to remain working in those styles for which they’re best known--while others continue to explore new approaches and evolve stylistically over the course of their careers. French painter Francis Picabia (1879-1953) was an artist who enjoyed experimentation, and is therefore associated with the Modern movements of Cubism, Orphism, Abstract Art, Dada, and Surrealism--among others.


Sonia Delaunay: A Woman of Design

Flamenco dancer, Sonia Delaunay - 1916 - oils on canvasPortrait of Philomene, Sonia Delaunay - 1907 - oils on canvas - 40.64 cm (16 in.), Width: 42.55 cm (16.75 in.) (click photo for larger image)Ukrainian-born French Abstract Painter and Designer Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) was an active participant in the Orphism movement, along with her husband, Robert Delaunay. Sonia’s work embodies strong colors and geometic shapes--and an amazing sense of design. In addition to painting, she worked in textile and stage set design. She was the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, and in 1975 she was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor. Orphism was a style of painting related to Cubism, but which involved overlapping planes of bright, contracting colors--and was more abstract. The movement was given its name by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and refers to Orpheus, the singer and poet of Greek mythology.


Orphism: The Look of Music

Robert Delaunay, Homage to Bleriot - 1914 - Oil on canvas - 76 1/2 x 50 1/2 in. - Kunstmuseum, Basle (click photo for larger image)Fernand Leger, Divers on a Yellow Background, 1941, oil on cavnas, The Art Institute of Chicago. (click photo for larger image)Orphism was a trend in the early Modern era that derived from cubism, but which gave priority to color. The French poet Guillaume Apollinaire--who gave the movement its name (after the mythological Orpheus)--felt the style brought musical qualities to painting, which was a particular interest of many modern artists. Practitioners of Orphism include Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp. Delaunay, in particular, focused on the extraordinary aesthetic of color in his work. Leger developed his Cubism into a more figurative style.