With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
Robert Delaunay, a pioneer of abstract art, was one of the first painters to have thought that colour is at once form and subject. His participation in the beginnings of Cubism led him to the so-called “deconstructive” period with the Eiffel Tower series, the church of Saint-Séverin, and the Cities (1909-1911).
This painting titled The Window belongs to a series of thirteen works produced between 1912 and 1913. Influenced by reading La loi du contraste simultané des couleurs, written in 1839 by Gustave Chevreul, Delaunay constructed his composition using just colour, which replaced design and drawing, volume, perspective, and chiaroscuro.
During his “deconstructive” period, he painted volumes exploded by the action of light into coloured areas, thereby losing illusionist depth. The breakdown of space, the progressive dissolution of the object, and the triumph of pure colour would lead him, in 1912, to take the crucial step towards abstraction, as shown by this work, on the borderline of non-figuration. The Windows series ushered in a more “constructive” period, described by Guillaume Apollinaire as “Orphic Cubism”. The prism of colours, smithereened by the light, is here put back together in a two-dimensional space, as colourful facets whose contrasts are used to create both the picture’s architecture and the movement behind it, while the image of the Eiffel Tower, an evocation of the modern world, can be just made out in the middle of the composition.
The Window, 1912
Crédit photographique : Jean-Luc Lacroix/Musée de Grenoble