• Impressionist Modern Works on  auction at Christies

    Sale 2218

    Impressionist Modern Works on Paper

    4 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 132

    Robert Delaunay (1885-1941)

    Air, fer et eau, étude

    Price Realised  


    Robert Delaunay (1885-1941)
    Air, fer et eau, étude
    signed and dated 'r. delaunay 1937' (lower right)
    gouache over pencil on paper laid down on panel
    19 5/8 x 33 5/8 in. (49.8 x 85.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1937

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    Richard Riss has confirmed the authenticity of this gouache.

    Executed in 1937, Air, fer et eau, étude encapsulates the energy and excitement of the modern world. Dominated by the Eiffel Tower, the emblematic architectural structure of the 19th century, this composition is an homage to technological progress and to the spirit of invention.

    Air, fer et eau, étude employs a brilliant construction of interwoven rings, rhythm and color planes. With the interpenetration of various elements and themes, Delaunay succeeded in creating a luminous and spacious composition. He made groundbreaking use of light and color as compositional devices set starkly against the artist's ground, painted here with bold strokes and with much more freedom than in earlier works.

    Delaunay made his mark in early 20th century Paris as the pioneer of Orphism, an avant-garde movement originating in Cubism and based on artistic theories concerning the inter-relationships of light and color. This canvas, painted towards the end of his life, represents the culmination of the artistic principles that Delaunay promoted and developed throughout his career.

    Delaunay's study of color theory was influenced bu the painting of Georges Seurat, whose use of contrasting and complementary colors in his pointillist compositions revolutionized painting at the end of the 19th century. Delaunay expanded upon the expressive potential of color in his painting, concentrating on color as the ultimate means of representing reality. Max Imdahl has written "For Robert Delaunay, colors are the painter's actual language. In addition, Delaunay cobsidered the language of color the most human language imaginable in art. Every human being, he said, is capable of being affected by the universal language of colors, by their play, movement, chords, rhythms--in short, by those arrangements that are especially suited to man's natural inclinations" (G. Vriesen and M. Imdahl, Robert Delaunay: Light and Color, New York, 1967, p. 80).

    Delaunay's visual language of pure colors continued to exert an important influence long after his death.


    Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 11 November 1992, lot 62.
    The Mayor Gallery, London (acquired at the above sale).
    Acquired from the above by the late owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Richard Riss has confirmed the authenticity of this gouache.

    Pre-Lot Text