A few days ago a new word floated past my ears, Orphism. The internet has some wonderful images of this style of art and there is a lot of information on Wikipedia detailing this Movement which was an important stepping stone from Cubism to pure Abstraction.
The term Orphism or Orphic Cubism was coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire in 1912. Orphists include Jacques Villon, Robert & Sonia Delaunay – who are widely represented on the internet – and Frantisek Kupka.
Artists associated with the style include Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp and others.
This style aimed to convey sensation through form and colour and I am particularly drawn to the works of Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) who was influenced by ‘The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors and their Applications to the Arts’ published by Michel-Eugène Chevreul.
I find the curvaceous flow, the repetition of a reduced-colour palette and the volume of content in his work very appealing. There is enough to keep my eyes wandering over a piece without it becoming either too busy or, conversely, boring.
Prism, by Kupka, is another piece showcasing curves but here they are slightly staggered and enhanced by the dark, sharp outlining – quite different to the slightly more blended approach from Delaunay.
Clarice Cliff, being another colourist I like to refer to from time to time, designed these wonderful cups in around 1930 a little after the main Orphist period but how well they fit into this category.
I find them quite exquisite. Rows and rows of similarly themed but unique pieces grabbing our attention using a very minimalist shape and alluring colours.
So to my own Orphist attempt.
Starting with my roughly drawn plan I progressed to applying colour to a calico bag.
I chose a soft look using Inktense pencils initially on a dry base then selectively wetted down with further layers of colour applied to try to get more detail and tonal difference. I haven’t much experience with these pencils and it’s hard to control the bleed once the fabric becomes wet.
Interesting effect, possibly better using paints if a sharper more defined image is required. I can see a lot of scope to use this technique as a base for stitched, beaded and appliquéd enhancement.