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.

Robert Delaunay, Joy of Life

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.

Frantisek Kupka, Prism

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 – cups

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.


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Sketchbook, Textiles 1: A Creative Approach. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Orphism

  1. fibresofbeing says:

    The bag looks great – wonderful colours and shapes.
    Sonia Delauney did a lot of textile design too. I read a book earlier this year http://fibresofbeing.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/book-review-sonia-delaunay/, and found it particularly interesting to see how she did the same design in different colour-ways.

  2. Claire B says:

    The bag was really a means of trying out the Inktense pencils which I am still unsure about. I’ve watched a few videos about their usage and when my drawing teacher suggested that I attempt something in the vein of Orphism I jumped at the idea. It also gave me the opportunity to explore a style I didn’t really know anything about and some of which I find I quite like.

  3. Nola says:

    I like it! The purple-yellow contract gives it some pop.
    The colours are less intense than the Orphists seem to have used, and I noticed they often use a black outline, which might be the solution to bleed problems. You could draw over with a black line or use black gutta first, to divide the areas of colour.
    For me, the best use of the Inktense is for highlights on something already painted, dyed or printed. I’ve used them to adjust the balance, lay a wash over an area to focus attention, things like that. I haven’t used them on their own very much, though the colours are luminous, when you do. Gives a particular effect…

    • Claire B says:

      Yes, much less intense colours than the Orphists and that can be seen from the photos on my blog post. They were quite definite in their placement and precision of shaping and edges. I tried to outline the sections using the pencils in a hard manner but the very nature of them says that they will bleed out. I don’t mind the slightly fuzzy look and can see a lot of potential fun in stitching and embellishing the surface.
      I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Clarice Cliff and have spent quite a bit of time looking at that style. I like the boldness of the shapes and the vibrancy of the colours. Watching some of the Antiques Roadshow or similar programs on TV it seems that people either love or hate her style. I saw one recently where a contestant had to guess the value of a Clarice Cliff vase. She put it in the lower hundreds of pounds and was shocked to find it was worth quite a few thousand. Her response was something along the lines of “What, for THAT?” It just goes to show how different our tastes are.

  4. Pingback: Cultural Fusion – Stage 3a Creating a Portfolio | TactualTextiles

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