Saturday, September 8, 2018

Robert Delaunay and The City of Lights

Kunsthaus Zürich 

From 31 August to 18 November 2018 



Robert Delaunay, The Runners, 1924–1925. Oil on canvas, 153 x 203 cm. Private collection.
This most comprehensive exhibition in Switzerland to date on Robert Delaunay (1885–1941) pays homage to the artist’s devotion to his native city, Paris. As a passionate advocate and practitioner of abstract art, Delaunay became a central figure within the Parisian avant-garde in the first decades of the 20th century.

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Air, Iron, and Water. Study for a mural,” 1936–1937, Robert Delaunay, Gouache on paper and wood, 47 x 74.5 cm.Albertina, Wien. Batliner Collection

 Some 80 paintings, works on paper, films and photographs that explore his favourite themes – aviation, sport and the use of colour in art – will introduce you to Delaunay’s art and his artistic milieu. 

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Robert Delaunay, Self-Portrait, 1909

Oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm

Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art

moderne - Centre de création industrielle,

Paris. Donation Sonia Delaunay et Charles

Delaunay, 1964

Photo: © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI,

Dist. RMN-Grand Palais

/ Philippe Migeat

Robert Delaunay was fascinated by technological inventions, the Eiffel Tower and photography. In his depiction of the Eiffel Tower, Robert Delaunay combined the dynamism of the vibrant metropolis with the intensity of his colour studies. 

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Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower and

Gardens, Champ de Mars, 1922

Oil on canvas, 178.1 x 170.4 cm

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.,

The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981

Photo: Lee Stalsworth

André Kertész, Eiffel Tower, 1929

Gelatine silver print, 27.5 x 34.4 cm

Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris

Photo: Musée Carnavalet / Parisienne

de Photographie

© RMN-Grand Palais – Gestion droit


Modern technology, speed and movement dominate Robert Delaunay’s approach to life. In 1892 Paris receives electric street lighting, illuminating the night as if it were day, while in 1909 Blériot makes the first powered flight across the Channel. This was the backdrop for Delaunay’s investigations into how certain colour contrasts affect the eye and the creation of his ‘electric prisms’ and ‘circular forms’ – the earliest abstract images. 

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Robert Delaunay, Study for «La Ville»,


Oil on canvas, 88.3 x 124.5 cm

Tate: Presented by the Friends of the

Tate Gallery 1958
Photo: © Tate, London, 2018

Robert Delaunay, The City, 1911. Oil on canvas, 57 1/16 x 44 1/8 inches (145 x 112 cm)

Robert Delaunay b. 1885, Paris; d. 1941, Montpellier, France
The City 1911 Oil on canvas 57 1/16 x 44 1/8 inches (145 x 112 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift

The meeting of Sonia Delaunay and the poet Blaise Cendrars led to a fruitful collaboration and one of the most beautiful artists’ books, ‘La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France’ (‘Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Joan of France’), in which text, the rhythm of language, colours and forms blend into a unique ‘simultaneous’ whole.

For the exhibition  Robert Delaunay and The City of Lights , major museums and private collections in Europe and America have assisted Simonetta Fraquelli, a freelance curator specializing in early 20th-century Parisian art, by lending some of their Delaunay masterpieces which, for conservation reasons, are rarely permitted to travel. They include the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, the van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.   

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Robert Delaunay, Political Drama, 1914

Oil and collage on cardboard,

88.7 x 67.3 cm

National Gallery of Art, Washington,

Donation Joseph H. Hazen Foundation

Robert Delaunay, Portrait of Madame

Heim, 1926

Oil on canvas, 120 x 75 cm

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum / Modern


Photo: José Manuel Costa Alves

Robert Delaunay, Saint-Séverin, 1909

Watercolour and pencil on paper,

47.8 x 34 cm

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,

Bequest of Betty Bartlett McAndrew

Robert Delaunay, The Eiffel Tower

and the Airplane, 1925

Oil on canvas, 155 x 95 cm

Courtesy Galerie Le Minotaure,


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Robert Delaunay, Disc (The First Disc),


Oil on canvas, diameter 124 cm

Esther Grether Familiensammlung

Robert Delaunay, Windows Open

Simultaneously (1st Part, 3rd Motif),


Oil on canvas, 45.7 x 37.5 cm

Tate: purchase 1967

Photo: © Tate, London, 2018

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1926–28. Conté crayon on paper, 24 1/2 x 18 3/4 inches (62.3 x 47.5 cm)

Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1926–1928

Conté crayon on paper, 62.3 x 47.5 cm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New

York. The Hilla Rebay Collection

Robert Delaunay, Rythmes: Joie

de Vivre, 1930

Oil on canvas, 146 x 130 cm

Private collection



Robert Delaunay and the City of Lights (English Edition) Kunsthaus Zürich

A scholarly and lavishly illustrated catalogue in English and German accompanies the exhibition. It includes newly commissioned essays by Céline Chicha-Castex, Nancy Ireson, Anne de Mondenard and Simonetta Fraquelli (exhibition curator), contributing to the critical re-evaluation of this remarkable artist.

Robert Delaunay and The City of Lights will recognize Delaunay’s unwavering commitment to color in painting to convey form, depth, light and movement, while highlighting how the modern metropolis of Paris often provided the inspiration for his imagery and pictorial research. In addition to presenting works from of his most famous series of paintings, such as that of the Eiffel Tower, the book also includes portraits Delaunay made of his artistic milieu during the 1920s. Portraits of the poets Philippe Soupault, Tristan Tzara, and several fashionable socialites, wearing ensembles designed by the artist Sonia Terk-Delaunay, are shown. The newly commissioned texts allow the reader to experience the wide-ranging and prescient nature of Robert Delaunay’s work – exploring the significant themes of movement, technology, sport, and advertising that were to preoccupy him throughout his career.

Hardcover 22 x 27 cm 176 pages 103 color and 29 b/w ills. English Available ISBN 978-3-86828-885-8\

Nice article