Robert Delaunay, (born April 12, 1885, Paris—died Oct. 25, 1941, Montpellier, Fr.), was a French painter who first introduced vibrant colour into Cubism and thereby originated the trend in Cubist painting known as Orphism. He was one of the earliest completely nonrepresentational painters, and his work affected the development of abstract art based on the compositional tensions created by juxtaposed planes of colour.
Robert Delaunay was born in Paris on April 2, 1885. The French painter began an apprenticeship in 1902-04 as a theater decorator.
His early works were still influenced by Neoimpressionism in the style of a Georges Seurat or an Henri Edmond Cross. Between 1906 and 1909, Robert Delaunay made the acquaintance of Jean Metzinger, Henri Rousseau and Sonja Uhde-Terk, who later became his wife.
Inspired by the art of Paul Cézanne, some sacred works appeared in expressive, fractured shapes (from 1908-09); following this, Robert Delaunay’s picture compositions became more and more cubistic.
In this brief phase influenced by Cubism (1910-12), a series of "city pictures" was produced with the Eiffel Tower as a central motif, for example "The City of Paris" from 1910-12, now in the Musée National d`Art Moderne in Paris.
With the series "Window Pictures" (Les Fenêtres, 1912-13) and the "Circular Forms" (Formes Circulaires, beginning in 1913), Robert Delaunay began with pure and abstract painting, in which color contrasts created the structure of the picture.
The point of departure here is the window through which light is flowing, in which the physical subject in spectral colors breaks up into geometric forms which are apparently moved by energy.
During the 1920’s, he worked together with his wife Sonja Delaunay-Terk on stage designs for the Ballets Russes and for Dadaist theater pieces. Between 1930-38, he began to paint again and took over the decorations for the railroad and for aviation in the pavilion of the World’s Fair in Paris in 1937.
In 1940 Robert Delaunay fled to Southern France and died on October 25, 1941 in Montpellier.