Robert Delaunay ( French, 1885 - 1941 )
The Eiffel Tower with its soaring wrought iron girders, erected for the Paris International Exposition in 1900, was already an icon of modernity when Robert Delaunay painted it in 1924. The whirling propeller forms at the upper left are also symbols of technological advancement, an allusion to pilot Louis Blériot and his unprecedented flight across the English Channel in 1909. Beginning in 1910 Delaunay painted a series of works devoted to the Eiffel Tower, Blériot's flight, the great Ferris wheel, and the city of Paris. These paintings occurred in the context of other contemporary literary and artistic masterworks created as paeans of optimistic belief in the achievements of the modern industrial world.
With the pastiche-like jumble of multiple perspectives—bird's-eye view toward the tower; down on the Champ de Mars; head-on toward the cruciform pattern of the propellers—the artist attempts to capture the dizzying effects of height and speed. Delaunay communicated his euphoric attitude toward the modern world most directly, however, in the explosive symphony of nondescriptive color—pink and green, saffron and orange, purple and blue—which floats in patches that emphasize the two-dimensional surface of the canvas. Delaunay's audacious use of bright colors articulated independently of form inspired the avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire to coin the term "orphic cubism" in 1912. Indeed, by that time Delaunay was experimenting with purely abstract disks and circular forms in which color, entirely free from descriptive function, rhythmically interacts in ways not unlike the simultaneity of music.
Dorothy Kosinski, "The Eiffel Tower", in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ _ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 128.