As Anti-Figurative as Music

Study for the Montée, František Kupka

 

Study for Around a Point, František Kupka

 

Circular Forms, Robert Delaunay

 

Joy of Life, Robert Delaunay

 

Untitled, Sonia Delaunay

 

Orphism or Orphic Cubism, a term coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire at the Salon de la Section d’Or in 1912, referring to the works of František Kupka. During his lecture at the Section d’Or exhibit Apollinaire presented three of Kupka’s abstract works as perfect examples of pure painting, as anti-figurative as music.

This movement, perceived as key in the transition from Cubism to Abstract art, was pioneered by František Kupka, Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay, who relaunched the use of color during the monochromatic phase of Cubism.The meaning of the term Orphism was elusive when it first appeared and remains to some extent vague.

The Symbolists had used the word orphique in relation to the Greek myth of Orpheus, who they perceived as the ideal artist. Apollinaire had written a collection of quatrains in 1907 entitled Bestiaire ou cortège d’Orphée (Paris, 1911), within which Orpheus was symbolized as a poet and artist. For both Apollinaire and the Symbolists who preceded him, Orpheus was associated with mysticism, something that would inspire artistic endeavors. The voice of light that Apollinaire mentioned in his poems was a metaphor for inner experiences. Though not fully articulated in his poems, the voice of light is identified as a line that could be colored and become a painting. The Orphic metaphor thus represented the artist’s power to create new structures and color harmonies, in an innovative creative process that combined to form a sensuous experience.

Even after 1913, when Apollinaire had separated from the Delaunays and Orphism had lost its novelty as a new art form, the Delaunays continued painting in their personal shared style. They may not have always called their work Orphic, but the aesthetics and theories were the same. Robert continued painting while Sonia delved into other media, including fashion, interior and textile design, all within the realm of Orphism.

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The Pursuit of A Specifically Feminine Aesthetic

Marie Laurencin c. 1912, Paris

 
 

Laurencin photographed by Carl van Vechten, 1949

 
 

Marie Laurencin (October 31, 1883 – June 8, 1956) was a French painter, poet and printmaker. She was born in Paris, where she was raised by her mother and lived much of her life. At 18, she studied porcelain painting in Sèvres. She then returned to Paris and continued her art education at the Académie Humbert, where she changed her focus to oil painting.

Disciple of Henri Matisse, during the early years of the 20th century, Laurencin was an important figure in the Parisian avant-garde. A member of both the circle of Pablo Picasso, and Cubists associated with the Section d’Or, such as Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri le Fauconnier and Francis Picabia, exhibiting with them at the Salon des Indépendants (1910-1911) and the Salon d’Automne (1911-1912). She became romantically involved with the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and has often been identified as his muse. In addition, Laurencin had important connections to the salon of the American expatriate and famed lesbian writer Natalie Clifford Barney. She had heterosexual and lesbian affairs.

During the First World War, Laurencin left France for exile in Spain with her German-born husband, Baron Otto von Waëtjen, since through her marriage she had automatically lost her French citizenship. The couple subsequently lived together briefly in Düsseldorf. After they divorced in 1920, she returned to Paris, where she achieved financial success as an artist until the economic depression of the 1930s. During the 1930s she worked as an art instructor at a private school. She lived in Paris until her death.

 
 

Réunion à la campagne (Apollinaire et ses amis), 1919

 
 

Les jeunes filles (Jeune Femmes, Young Girls), 1910-11

 
 

Le Bal élégant, La Danse à la campagne, 1913

 
 

Portrait de Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923

 
 

Laurencin’s works include paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. She is known as one of the few female Cubist painters, with Sonia Delaunay, Marie Vorobieff, and Franciska Clausen. While her work shows the influence of Cubist painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who was her close friend, she developed a unique approach to abstraction which often centered on the representation of groups of women and female portraits. Her work lies outside the bounds of Cubist norms in her pursuit of a specifically feminine aesthetic by her use of pastel colors and curvilinear forms. Laurencin’s insistence on the creation of a visual vocabulary of femininity, which characterized her art until the end of her life, can be seen as a response to what some consider to be the arrogant masculinity of Cubism.

The Illustrated Flapper

Life cover Magazine by Frank Xavier Leyendecker, 1922

 
 

Saturday Evening Post cover,by Ellen Bernard Thompson Pyle of Wilmington. February 4, 1922

 
 

Norman Rockwell

 
 

Penrhyn Stanlaws

 
 

Russell Patterson

 
 

Ethel Hays

 
 

George Wolfe Plank

 
 

Georges Lepape

 
 

George Barbier

 
 

Panels from Flapper Philosophy  by Faith Burrows. They ran in competition with Ethel Hays’s similarly themed Flapper Fanny Says

 
 

John Held Jr.