The French painter Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) was a truly dynamic artist of the 20th century. His artistic style kept changing between the triangular creative zone formed by ‘orphism’, ‘abstraction’ and ‘cubism’. Robert’s Eiffel Tower series consisted of the most powerful works of his life. The Tower, the very icon of the urbanization, always fascinated Delaunay. Being a radio tower, the Tower represented limitless communication and its unique construction was a symbol of the evolving machine age. Robert created around 30 works (sketches, window paintings and oil paintings) using the Eiffel Tower as a subject, during his self-described “destructive phase”. All these paintings represent the tower surrounded by tall buildings, from different angles and viewpoints. Three oil paintings from the ‘Eiffel Tower Series’, created between 1909 and 1912, are considered the true masterpieces of Delaunay’s art.
The three famous oil paintings in Robert’s Tower Series were:
o Tower with trees (49 ¾ “x 36 ½” canvas)
o Tower (Tour Eiffel) – On a 79 ½ “x 54 1/2” canvas, this painting shows the tower emerging from the curtain of skyscrapers around it.
o The Red Tower (63 ¼ “x 50 5/8” canvas)
Robert Delaunay’s ‘Eiffel Tower Series’ epitomizes ‘Modernism’. All the paintings are dramatic, vibrant representations of energy and present an elusive image. A vibrant flow of vivid colors forms a group of interesting abstracts. All three paintings present an angular view of the Tower. Robert has used a bright but narrow color palette, such as red, orange, brown, gray, white, black and shades of blue, in his ‘Tower Series’. His innovative approach to the series was free from all the creative norms established at the time, ‘impressionistic’ landscapes to be precise.
Delaunay adapted a distinctive style, which appears ‘cubist’ in nature with a hint of ‘Fauvism’ (due to the use of vibrant colors). He invented the non-imitative art form, where color, rather than an object-inspired shape, plays a key role in painting. The fragmented layers of color form the fascinating patterns of fractured spaces, which the viewer’s mind must perceive. The genius of these very futuristic illustrations tends to provoke inner physics and elevate one to a different level of self-awareness.
Robert Delaunay’s unique conceptualization in ‘The Eiffel Tower Series’ established his name as a pioneer in ‘Abstract Art’. Clement Greenburg once said of Robert Delaunay: “He was an enterprising painter whose influence in the art world was far greater than his art.” The paintings “Eiffel Tower with Trees” and “Eiffel Tower” currently rest at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, while “The Red Tower” is housed at the Chicago Institute of the Arts.