Orphism — The History
The word ‘Orphism’ belongs to the ancient Greek Mythology, referencing the poet and musician Orpheus. Poet Guillaume Apollinaire tossed this term ‘Orphism’ in 1912 to eulogize the works of painter Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). Robert Delaunay was a Cubism inspired painter, whose colorful works were also called Orphic Cubism. Delaunay started a new genre of painting, wanting it to appeal to the human senses. The style was a pattern of overlapping contrast colors. The sole idea of Orphism was to submerge the concept of music with colors.
The pattern of submergence in Orphism attracted many painters of that time, such as Sonia Delaunay, Robert Delaunay’s wife, Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Leger, Francis Picabia, and Franz Kupka.
Apollinaire treated Robert Delaunay as the pioneer of Orphism, which he certainly was. Though, he was a painter of Cubist origin, but he never robbed the colors off his paintings. He always maintained that colors are the strongest and the most powerful aesthetic measure of a painting. He applied the theories of Michel-Eugène Chevreul, a chemist, on colors and Cubism, though in Abstract ways. Robert was keen to see the effects of colors and light, when they are not tied-up with an object. That dynamism gave a sense of music to his paintings. When the colors and lights are not attached to an object, they flow freely and become ‘lyrical’ in a synchronized fashion. At this stage, the whole situation attains the status of Orphism. This was the concept well molded on Delaunay’s canvas.
In one of his works “Sun Disks” (1912-13), Robert painted superimposed circles of different colors. The circles rhythm with each other in harmony and the movement can be considered as harmonious musical notes. Another work from a famous painter Frantisek Kupka or famously known as Kupka, titled “Disks of Newton,” shows the musical analogy. The synchronization of vibrant colors was created to unite the ideas, which were visual as well as musical.
Orphism was an obvious leap in the field of painting from Cubist form of painting to Abstractionist approach. Orphism focused more on human expressions and prominently arose human sensations. Initially, even Orphism had some valuable subjects, but later, due to its dynamic nature, Orphism was fairly absorbed by the Abstract structures and forms. After some time, the art style rubbed off the static subjects and topics and tended towards forms & colors alone to correspond and communicate. After enjoying a great period, Orphism and the Orphist group faced an untimely end. At the arrival of the World War I, this art movement ended. Orphism movement however, had its significant effect on many Abstract Art movements, precisely ‘Lyrical Abstraction,’ later.
Orphism — The History