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Robert Delaunay (1885–1941)

Author of The new art of color : the writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay

Includes the names: Delaunay Robert

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Robert Delaunay was born in Paris, the son of George Delaunay and comtesse Berthe Félicie de Rose. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he was raised by his mother's sister Marie and her husband Charles Damour, in La Ronchère near Bourges. When Robert did poorly in school and said he wanted to become an artist, his uncle sent him to apprentice at a studio for decorative arts in Paris. At age 19, Robert decided to focus entirely on painting, and contributed six works to the Salon des Indépendants of 1904. He became a close friend of Jean Metzinger, and the two often painted together. In 1908, after serving a term in the military, he met Sonia Terk, a neighbor and fellow artist. She was married to a German art dealer whom she would soon divorce. In 1909, they became lovers, and they married in 1910; their son Charles was born shortly afterwards. Around this time, Robert Delaunay painted his most famous pictures, including views of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by clouds. At the invitation of Vasily Kandinsky, Delaunay joined The Blue Rider, a new Munich-based group of abstract artists. He and Sonia shared a similar aesthetic, and together they developed the art movement known as Orphism (named by Apollinaire), an offshoot of Cubism and Futurism noted for its bold colors and repeating geometric shapes. During World War I, the Delaunays lived in Madrid, Spain, and in Portugal. They met Sergei Diaghilev, also stranded by the war, who invited Sonia to create costumes and Robert the decor for Cleopatre, the next production of the Ballets Russes. After the war, the Delaunays returned to Paris, where Robert continued to paint in a mostly abstract style. The couple helped created large murals and the railway design for the 1937 Paris World's Fair. Robert Delaunay's last works were decorations for the sculpture hall of the 1938 Salon des Tuileries. When the Germans invaded France in World War II, the couple fled to Montpellier, where Robert died of cancer at age 56.
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