L'équipe de Cardiff
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The painting 'L'équipe de Cardiff' by the French artist Robert Delaunay shows fragments of a big wheel, the Eiffel Tower, a biplane and a rugby team. Next to these, the viewer can read legible texts on billboards. In painting all these elements Delaunay used colour and form very freely, leaving out the details. Shapes merge together and colours are sometimes in sharp contrast with each other, while in other cases they are placed side by side in different shades of a single colour.
In terms of form, 'L'équipe de Cardiff' has some characteristics of Cubism. In a Cubist painting some recognizable outlined shapes can be seen separately as independent fragments. Furthermore, the theme is no longer represented in accordance with the laws of central perspective and different perspectives are combined at the same time to form a new overall picture. Delaunay did not base his work on a single main theme, but juxtaposed different themes to achieve a sense of movement. The French poet and art critic Guilluame Apollinaire used the term “Orphism” for Delaunay’s work to describe the lyrical and colourful variation of Cubism. Delaunay aimed to represent themes such as movement, space and light and to do this he used subjects which were characteristic of the dynamics of the modern era.
The starting point for this painting was the photograph of a rugby team in a French newspaper. Delaunay combined this element with some of the high points of the technology of the time such as the Eiffel Tower, a biplane and the big wheel. The texts refer to advertisements on walls and billboards in fields. “Astra” is the name of an airplane factory. The words “Magic Paris” evoke the charms of the French capital city. Altogether, the subject has a very earthy and contemporary character: Paris as an exciting city full of novelties and amusement. Delaunay used bright colours to represent this theme. The composition of the painting shows upward movement: the rugby player jumps up and the semi-circular shape of the big wheel draws the viewer’s eyes upwards to the biplane. It is precisely because of the unusual contemporary subject and the new way of painting that Delaunay’s work encountered great resistance from the general public in 1913.
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