Robert Delaunay – Joie de Vivre

23 Feb

1912-13. Robert Delaunay - Le Premier DisqueRobert Delaunay, Le Premier Disque, 1912-13

If colours were emotions, this painting would be pure joy, euphoria, ecstatic rapture… Delaunay’s painting Le Premier Disque exudes playfulness, mainly because colours are in charge, and geometrical composition isn’t that dominant.

Delaunay’s colours are art therapy for me. This painting resembles a musical symphony, with colours instead of notes; deep red, cherry red, blue as the sky, the sea, then green, green like woods, yellow, van Gogh’s yellow, mystical shades of purple. Delaunay was a lyrical colourist, and after experimenting with Cubism, he returned to his greatest love – colour. He said himself: ‘This happened in 1912. Cubism was in full force. I made paintings that seemed like prisms compared to the Cubism my fellow artists were producing. I was the heretic of Cubism. I had great arguments with my comrades who banned color from their palette, depriving it of all elemental mobility. I was accused of returning to Impressionism, of making decorative paintings, etc.… I felt I had almost reached my goal.‘ It was necessary for him to experiment in order to find his own path, and he did, in 1912, when he finally succumbed to his passion for bright and dynamic colours. But his aim was different than those of Impressionists and Fauvists who still painted portraits and landscapes but with sometimes unnatural colours. Delaunay, like Kandinsky, wanted the paint to became valuable for itself.

Whenever I see this painting, it reminds me of Mayakovsky’s poem ‘But could you?’; in it Mayakovsky splashes a pot of colour on the trivialities of daily life, work-hours and boredom. Delaunay’s painting has the same effect on me; it stands as a spiritual border between school obligations and free time which I cherish immensely.

I blurred at once the chart of trite routine
by splashing paint with one swift motion.‘ (‘But could you? by Vladimir Mayakovsky)

For me, this painting is a true visual representation of ‘joie de vivre’, and therefore reminds me of Renoir’s paintings. While Renoir painted people dancing and laughing, Delaunay here uses nothing but colours, but provokes the same feeling from the viewer – joy of life. This is a painting which brings happiness, do you need more?

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