Study for ‘The City’

1909-10 by Robert Delaunay
Tate Gallery

Delaunay’s ‘The City’ has the curved contorted shapes of his more famous Eiffel Tower. In the Eiffel Tower, the tower’s feet stand outsized while the buildings crowd precariously around; here, the main building swells at the front of the painting, its sides can hardly seem to contain it. The walls are swollen outwards while the windows stand ordered in regimented rows; dark, they are small portals, given a flicker of personality through the unlikely growing of their the sun-bleached walls. Light in this painting is beautifully spread, capturing that magical point as the sun breaks across its shadow in an early milky haze, providing a natural warmth across this city that is dominated by blue. As the Eiffel Tower was red, a quiet indigo is inked across these buildings, colouring the atmosphere harmoniously. Colour holds the composition together, we hardly notice as the sides of the painting morph into Cubism, giving us the apt illusion that the squares of the buildings continue into the beyond.


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