Circular Forms

7:00 AM

Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms, 1930. Oil on canvas, 50 3/4 x 76 3/4 inches (128.9 x 194.9 cm)
Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms, 1930
By EMMA SHAPIRO

To Steve, 

Orphism, or Orphic Cubism, developed from the rising intellectual cubism of the period. It focuses on musical elements within color and lyrical abstractions. Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term while observing Frantisek Kupka's painting, noting that it was "the art of painting new totalities with elements that the artist does not take from visual reality, but creates entirely by himself." Robert Delaunay and his wife were of the main contributors to the movement, along with Leger, Kandinsky, and Picabia. 

Robert Delaunay sought to depict how something felt. He prefered the term "simultaneism" to describe his work, wanting his paintings to show the movement of modern life. He based his separation of colors into distinct shapes off of divisionism - an application of pure colors, instead of mixing, which enables the viewer to interact optically with the painting. Delaunay painted the distortion of color through stain glass windows to emphasize these patches of color. He painted Circular Forms off the windows in Saint Severin, a Parisian Gothic church. He thought the use of windows created a metaphor for the transition between internal and external states. 

I chose to gift you this painting as recognition for your courage and strength. I have admired yousince I was little. The painting attempts to display the continuous movement of life and humanity, just like you have continued to move forward since your accident. I thought you would enjoy how Orphism ties music together with art, because of your dedication to Judaism and also the musical and visual arts. I know you believe that art should be displayed in a museum, rather than owned by an individual collector, which is why I will donate this piece to a museum of your choice, in your name. You and Joan are two of my biggest supporters, and I cannot thank you enough for all that you have taught me.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

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