Robert Delaunay

(1885 - 1941)
Robert Delaunay L'Équipe de Cardiff [The Cardiff Team] 1922 - 1923


Delaunay was born in Paris into an aristocratic family. Largely self-taught, he was apprenticed to a firm of theatrical set builders from 1902 to 1904. Delaunay's early paintings were in an impressionist style, but in 1906 he began experimenting with the abstract qualities of colour. He was interested in the interaction of colour and movement, partly inspired by the work of Seurat. By 1910 Delaunay's work was showing the influence of cubism and, together with his wife Sonia, he became the leading practitioner of 'Simultanism', an offshoot of cubism and futurism. Delaunay was the first French artist to produce completely abstract pictures, at the end of 1912.

Glossary terms

  • Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

  • A loosely affiliated group of artists working in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century up to the Second World War. The term initially referred specifically to non-French artists who had settled in the city but was later used more generally. Artists associated with group are regarded as innovators of modern art, working in styles as diverse as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Art. They include Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Modigliani.