Delaunay, Robert (1885–1941) By Schroder, Andressa
Robert-Victor-Félix Delaunay was one of the precursors of abstract painting in Europe. He played a critical role in establishing abstract painting before World War I and had a strong influence on the later development of abstract art. Delaunay became a representative of Orphism, a term coined by Guillaume Apollinaire in reference to Orpheus, the legendary musician and poet in Greek mythology. Delaunay wrote many letters to other artists such as August Macke, Franz Mark, and Wassily Kandinsky, which reveal that his main concerns were related to the luminous essence and to the movement of colors in nature.
Robert Delaunay was the son of George Delaunay and the countess Berthe Félicie de Rose. During his childhood his parents got divorced and he was raised by his mother’s sister, Marie, and her husband Charles Damour in La Rouchère. In 1902 he started studying in the Rosin’s atelier for decorative arts in Belleville. The following year he left Rosin’s to focus only on painting and in 1904 he exhibited some of his works in the Salon des Indépendants. These first works were strongly influenced by Impressionism. Between 1905 and 1907 Delaunay began studying the color theory of Michel Eugène Chevreul. His works of this period were strongly influenced by Neo-Impressionism, particularly the works of Paul Cézanne. In 1907 he served as regimental librarian for the Military Forces in Laon.