Resisting Abstraction: Robert Delaunay and Vision in the Face of Modernism

Resisting Abstraction: Robert Delaunay and Vision in the Face of Modernism

Gordon Hughes

Language: English

Pages: 184

ISBN: 022615906X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Robert Delaunay was one of the leading artists working in Paris in the early decades of the twentieth century, and his paintings have been admired ever since as among the earliest purely abstract works.

With Resisting Abstraction, the first English-language study of Delaunay in more than thirty years, Gordon Hughes mounts a powerful argument that Delaunay was not only one of the earliest artists to tackle abstraction, but the only artist to present his abstraction as a response to new scientific theories of vision. The colorful, optically driven canvases that Delaunay produced, Hughes shows, set him apart from the more ethereal abstraction of contemporaries like Kandinsky, Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and František Kupka. In fact, Delaunay emphatically rejected the spiritual motivations and idealism of that group, rooting his work instead in contemporary science and optics. Thus he set the stage not only for the modern artists who would follow, but for the critics who celebrated them as well.

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recognize landmarks. Just as Nadar labels “Montmartre” and “Avenue du Bois du Boulogne” in a publicity image for his Photographie aérostatique (figure 1.41), so too Schelcher signposts street names around the edge of the photograph to help vision find its mental bearings. [ 44 ] les la photographie aerienne, chapter One 30 AOUT 1913 L 'ILLU STRATION 1.39. Advertisement for “Petit-Beurre Lu Lu.” L’illustration, no. 3679, August 30, 1913. ANNONCES - 1. 1.40. André Schelcher, “A

1914 issue of und Chemie 45 (1838). Le petit journal (figure 3.20), the Political Drama paintings depict the infamous 3.17. Harvard Psychological Laboratory in Dane Hall: �Instruments for experiments fatal shooting of Gaston Calmette (figure 3.21), editor of the conservative daily Le figaro, by Henriette Caillaux (figure 3.22). The murder occurred on March 16, 1914, just after 6 p.m., when, having waited in the lobby of Le figaro for over an hour, on sight, 1892. Photograph. Madame

titled “The Psychology of the Jury,” published in L’opinion on October 13, 1913. In it, Bergson argued that Parisian juries were too readily inclined to view the act of murder as if written in advance of the actual crime. For him, this sense of inevitability was crucially unlike the aesthetic experience of viewing a dancer, whose movements also appear retrospectively prescribed in advance of his or her action. Viewing the graceful movements of a dancer does not eliminate our belief in the agency

Paris (AM2766P). Photo: Philippe Migeat. CNAC / MNAM / Dist. RMN-Grand Â�Palais /Art Resource, NY. [ 11 ] Eiffel Tower paintings from 1909–1911 (figure 1.5). The poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who was to live briefly with Delaunay and his wife, Sonia, from November to mid-December of 1912, praised these works in his review of the exhibition, trumpeting Delaunay as “an artist who has a monumental vision of the world. . . . Robert Delaunay has already come to occupy an important place

wishes to approach the truth, must record only conceptions of the objects, the only things created without the aid of the senses, which are a source of inexhaustible errors.” “Conception et vision,” Gil Blas, August 29, 1912, 4; reprinted in Cubism Reader, 320. Raynal reiterated this claim in “L’exposition de La section d’or,” his contribution to the Section d’or exhibition catalog published in October 1912: “Who will fail to be astonished by this marvelous idea[,] . ↜. ↜. the idea of

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