Tag Archives: abstract art

Robert Delaunay, Blazing a Colorful Trail

There once lived an artistic trailblazer named Robert Delaunay. He had a unique perspective, a countercultural technique, and a desire that drove him to be different.

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Parisian born Delaunay greatly influenced abstract art. He was one of the first nonrepresentational painters who advanced the style of cubism. The cubist painter added bright and bold shades of color to his work and was on the front lines of a style called Orphism.

In fact, the name Orphism didn’t exist until 1912 when a French poet by the name of Guillaume Apolliniare declared that work of this style (and especially work by Robert Delaunay) had musical qualities and ought to be named after Orpheus, the singer from Greek mythology who was often inspired by magic and ideals that were anything but ordinary.

Receiving great recognition for his innovative art style juxtaposed Delaunay’s early life. He was born in 1885 and very little information was published about his early training. However, it has been reported that his uncle, who became his primary caregiver after Delaunay’s parents divorced, sent him to art school after he failed an important school exam. As a result, Delaunay was able to influence the development of abstract art in France and throughout the world.

As Delaunay blazed a trail with his knack for colorful cubism, he was mimicked and challenged by his contemporaries. He and Jean Metzinger often painted together and hosted joint exhibits. In 1907, while in his early 20’s, Delaunay and Metzinger shared an exhibit where they were dubbed as “divisonists.” Divisionism is another word for pointillism. Calling them divisionists was the best way critics could describe their foreign use of “mosaic-like ‘cubes’ to construct small but highly symbolic compositions.”

With such recognition, a new branch of Neoimpressionism was born. The very style Delaunay and Metzinger were thought to originate went onto appear in works of Piet Mondrain, The Futurists and Gino Serverini.

Some people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which might have been so for Robert Delaunay too. However, he probably would have appreciated some financial attributes during the early rise of his career. At the time, he was not able to support himself on his artwork alone so he designed theatre sets full-time and painted in his spare hours.

In 1908 he met a woman by the name of Sonia Trek. Sonia, an artist, would become his wife and influence Orphism alongside him. They would work on many projects throughout their relationship, but before they got to producing joint works of art, Delaunay would go onto create some of his most famous pieces.

Delaunay began painting colorful, cubist inspired cathedrals and the Eiffel Tower in 1910. He painted several series that are still discussed today for their dynamism and bold coloring. These series include the Saint-Sévrin series (1909–10); the City series (1909–11); the Eiffel Tower series (1909–12); the City of Paris series (1911–12); the Window series (1912–14); the Cardiff Team series (1913); the Circular Forms series (1913); and The First Disk (1913).

As his style evolved, he separated himself from other abstract painters with an interpretation of cubism that was anything but traditional. In fact, by the time he moved onto his “Windows” series, he was solely creating nonobjective paintings. Still, many contemporaries and artists of his time, like the group of Expressionist painters from Munich by the name “The Blue Rider,” gravitated to his style and adopted some of its traits.

Throughout his remaining years, Delaunay and his wife worked together on theatre designs as well as a large mural for the Paris Exposition of 1937. These years were checkered with war and financial struggle. For instance, when Delaunay did not fight in World War I he was labeled a deserter. Then, when the Russian Revolution took place, the Delaunay’s were severed from the financial support they received from Sonia’s family.

By the time World War II broke out, Robert Delaunay had cancer. He and his wife tried to avoid German forces by moving to Auvergne, but Robert’s health deteriorated quickly after the move. In 1941, at the age of 56, he died in Montpellier France.

A lot can be said about Robert Delaunay, but rarely do people discuss his desertion from the military or tragic death. Robert Delaunay is known for infusing color into cubism. In doing so, he created a nonobjective approach that would influence art and aspiring artists for years to come.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Robert Delaunay’s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=DEL. Also, Segmation is proud to offer 25 digital Thomas Delaunay patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 25 Thomas Delaunay Landscape patterns. Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

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Sources:

Robert Delaunay Wikipedia

Robert Delaunay

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:

The Reluctant Educator and Revered Artist, Emil Carlsen”

Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

William Merritt Chase – American Impressionist Painter

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The Beauty of Abstract Art

Abstract art has a unique beauty that is often overlooked or forgotten due to the unrealistic nature of it. Before the mid-nineteenth Century most Western art was quite literal. For example, if an artist wanted to represent a woman in a painting, he or she painted a woman. In non-abstract art, one of the emphases was and is making the subject of the art clear to the viewer. This is not the case with abstract art.

The lack of definition that abstract art expresses sometimes can be confusing or even repulsive to people. The inability to understand something can be undesirable to the human mind. This is one reason why some people do not like abstract art – because it is rarely easy to understand. But just because something cannot be understood, does that mean it cannot be beautiful? Many people would answer no to this question.

Abstract art, also known as “nonfigurative art,” “nonrepresentational art,” and “nonobjective art,” has a beauty all its own, and that beauty lies in its unreality. Aristotle himself said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Does abstract art not do this very thing? Is it not created to signify meaning rather than reflect appearances?

La Premier Disque (1912-1913), created by Robert Delaunay, is an example of abstract art as well as Lyrical Abstraction. Painting La Premier Disque was quite a risk for Delaunay, especially considering the time in which it was created. The painting’s lack of a specific subject, break from classical perspective, and unique and bold colors create an expressive and stunning piece of abstract artwork. Can you appreciate the warmth and loveliness of La Premier Disque?

Many people do not care for abstract art. To that our reply is, “To each his own.” Still, there is something to be said for those who can forget the confines of perspective and deeply appreciate the beauty of the undefined. Releasing the desire for logical answers and viewing abstract art more with the heart than the eyes allows its true beauty to be experienced fully.

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Romare Bearden and Abstract Expressionist Art

Romare Bearden was an artist whose personal style went against the “mainstream” of art in the post World War II era. Overtime, Bearden’s style did not change as other artists’ did. He remained consistent in his abstract and expressive approach.  This is evident in all of his paintings and even more so in his collages.

Being an abstract expressionist, Bearden’s individual style developed over time.  At first he drew cartoons for magazines, then he began to paint and finally he started making collages.  All of his art was influenced by locations, people, and culture. His many travels along the east coast of the United States influenced his art work, along with his loyalty to his heritage.

The culture of African American life was a large focus for him. He shed much light on the oppression of African American people from the time of the Great Depression, through the Civil Rights Movement and onto their advancements toward equality.  He also concentrated on his heritage, depicting slaves and their migration to the north.

In addition to this, another common theme of his art was jazz music.  This greatly advanced his individual style. His art relayed one common theme but his style was advanced by his personal interpretation of jazz music.  Bearden constructed collages in the same way jazz musicians created a song — with many staccato notes played by multiple instruments. In the same sense, Bearden cut and pasted many small excerpts of paintings and photographs to create a larger work of art.

He also added paint to his collages making many pieces a hybrid of two art forms; half of the piece was painted and the other half was cut and pasted. Such creativity earned him the title of an abstract expressionist artist. While abstract elements were painted, the collage portions were realistic images taken from photographs.

The reason Bearden used this technique was because he felt that art portraying the lives of African American’s did not give full value to the individual.  This is why he used collages. In doing so he was able to combine abstract art with real images so that people of different cultures could grasp the subject matter of the African American culture: The people. This is why his theme always exemplified people of color.

Through the work of Romare Bearden, many lives were affected and individuals were better positioned to understand the struggles that African Americans faced throughout the 20th century.  The heritage of African American’s influenced an entire movement that advanced human equality.  Their struggle produced freedom.  In effect, the outside the box thinking of Romare Bearden created his unique style. A freedom all of its own.

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Did you love this Segmation blog post? If yes, great! Here are a few more posts you will enjoy:

— How the Father of Abstract Expressionism Forsook Fame to Pursue Art
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/how-father-abstract-expressionism-forsook-fame-pursue-art/

— The Beauty of Abstract Art
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/paint-by-number-kits-create-thousands-artists/

— Knitting Is More Than an Art, It Is a Cause
https://segmation.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/knitting-more-than-art-cause/

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The Op-Art of Josef Albers

Josef Albers, photograph by Arnold Newman, 1948. © Arnold Newman

In a recent post, a popular art form of the 20th century was introduced. Op-Art puts thought provoking optical illusions onto a flat canvas. During the early 1900’s, the art form flourished with the creative use of lines and patterns. At the start, artists used black and white paint or ink to create captivating images; color was incorporated later. One artist and theorist at the forefront of this art style, who also pioneered the technique of adding color, was a man by the name Josef Albers.

German-born American artist, Josef Albers studied at the Bauhaus school for arts and crafts in Germany. The school existed at the time of Nazi dominance in Germany and, subsequently, closed in 1933. After spending decade at Bauhaus as an art instructor, Alber’s emigrated to the United States, where he continued his career as an artist and teacher.

After spending some time in the United States, Albers accepted a position at teaching at Yale University. It was there that Josef Albers was able to advance the graphic art program before retiring from teaching in 1958.

In the early years of his retirement, as a fellow at Yale, Albers received funding to exhibit and lecture on the art form he had done so much to advance. By this time, Albers had catapulted many artists into successful careers. The list of notable students includes Richard Anuszkiewicz and Eva Hesse. Both artists are considered major forces in the Op-Art movement that swept the world during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Aside from his artwork and teaching, Josef Albers added another form of art to his long list of talents: In 1963, his book, Interaction of Color detailed the theory behind colorful op-art. This writing built upon a foundational thought of Albers — that colors have an internal and deceptive logic all-their-own.

Albers continued to paint and write until he died in 1976. However, the impression he left on the world of art, especially as an abstract painter and theorist, continues to live and influence abstract art today. Even though much of his work is well known and recognizable, it continues to thrive because of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. To this day, the organization supports exhibitions featuring the work of Josef Albers and his wife Anni, who was a textile artist.

The contribution Josef Albers made to the world of art is undeniable. He was successful at merging traditional European art with modern American art, to create an abstract style all his own. While his roots were grounded in the type of constructivist thinking that allowed Bauhaus school of arts and crafts to flourish, his experiences in America allowed him freedom to explore patterns and colors that are now the signature of optical art.

Op-art and graphic art continue to advance while consistently affirming Josef Albers influence. The world renowned teacher, artist, and color theorist is very much alive in the work of abstract artists today. Whether it is through his written words, paintings, or students who survived him, Albers will influence young artists for years to come.

No words can conclude a story about the life of this great man, except, perhaps his own. Alber’s was quoted as saying, “Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature. I prefer to see with closed eyes.” Others are happy to have their eyes opened by the influential life and art of Josef Albers. May his legacy and art been seen for years to come.

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Color in Monochrome Paintings www.segmation.com

1918 Monochrome Painting by Kazimir Malevich, titled "Suprematist Composition: White on White"

When you think of “abstract art”, what pops into your mind? A jumble of shapes on a canvas? Art that resembles spilled paint? How about paintings with lots of color?

The strong use of color is one of the most prominent features of abstract art, but it’s not necessary to use a variety of colors to make the painting interesting. In fact, there are some artists who do just the opposite: they focus each painting on just one color, and sometimes include tints or shades of that color.

This is called monochrome painting. The main element of the painting is a single color. In the painting above by Kazimir Malevich, the main color is white. The bottom layer is painted a warm white that appears slightly off-white when contrasted with the smaller square painted on top of it, which is a cooler white.

Monochrome paintings start with a single color (or hue), which is then mixed with various degrees of white paint to create tints and black paint to make shades. See the image to the right for an example of a monochromatic color scheme.

In a purely monochromatic painting, no other colors are used. Working in a monochromatic palette allows artists to explore the qualities of a specific color, while experimenting with how that color looks in relation to itself, only altered by white or black.

Some people may find monochrome paintings boring, due to the lack of diversity in color. However, limiting the palette forces the artist to come up with a more creative composition to create interest in the piece. If the artist is working in a realistic or representational style of painting, such as creating a recognizable portrait, landscape or still life, then working on a monochromatic color scheme can help the artist focus on tone and value – two concepts that we’ll discuss in future articles.

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