The Eiffel Tower: Robert Delaunay Notecard Folio
Ten 5 x 7 in. blank notecards with envelopes in a decorative folio.
Published with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Smithsonian Institution.
While he hopped restlessly from Neo-Impressionism to Divisionism, Cubism, and Orphism, Robert Delaunay (French, 1885–1941) remained wedded to a small number of formal obsessions. One was the Eiffel Tower, to which he turned at key junctures in his career. His wife Sonia wrote,
“The Tower was his liberated muse, his Eve of the future. . . The Tower addresses the universe.”
Born in Paris just two years before construction began on the tower, Delaunay learned his craft from a painter of theater scenery. As illusionistic sets yielded to the hammer blows of modern art, the young painter left his master’s studio and embraced Cubism, the discipline that he applied to his first paintings of Paris’s tallest structure, dating 1911 and 1912. By the fall of 1912 Delaunay had formally rejected Cubism, intent on reversing Picasso and Braque’s subordination of color to form. Delaunay’s close friend Apollinaire explained,“Color no longer depends on the three dimensions, for it is color that defines them.” A decade later the painter dis-covered the marvelous overhead photograph of the tower taken by André Schelcher and Albert Omer-Decugis in 1909, one in a series of images they made from the basket of a hot-air balloon. It permitted him to compose Eiffel Tower and Gardens, Champ de Mars, a work far more sedate than his Cubist experiments. Then, thirty-seven years after Eiffel opened his steel edifice to the public, Delaunay offered Parisians a new tower—he titled it quite simply The Eiffel Tower—a thing of yellow, orange, and gold whose rectangles of color linked it to the grid of streets and formal gardens at ground level rather than propelling it into the sky. Color had come to define the three dimensions.
Contains five each of the following notecards:
The Eiffel Tower (La tour Eiffel), 1924–1926
Eiffel Tower and Gardens, Champ de Mars (Tour Eiffel et jardin du Champ de Mars), 1922