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"Rythmes sans fin" explores the astonishing work of Robert Delaunay during the Twenties and Thirties. The exhibition devoted by the Centre Pompidou to the extraordinarily rich and varied Robert Delaunay collection brings together around 80 works in the form of paintings, drawings, reliefs, mosaics, models, a tapestry and a large number of documentary photographs.
Thanks to the large donation made by Sonia Delaunay and her son to the Musée National d’Art Moderne in 1964, the Centre Pompidou now possesses the world's largest collection of works by Robert and Sonia Delaunay.
The exhibition explores the work that Robert Delaunay began after the war. Particularly after the Thirties, he regained an interest in mural painting, and thus extended his field of work to the modern environment by moving towards monumentality. The exhibition reveals how his painting gradually moved away from the flat plane of the painting into the architectural space.
While Baudelaire defined modernity by temporality – the transitory versus the unchanging –, Delaunay saw it in terms of the outsize. Observing new features in the urban landscape such as the gigantism of the Eiffel Tower and the impact of advertising panels, together with the electrification of street lighting and the rapid rise of aviation, he perceived this modernity as visual excess, an optical sensation that submerged the viewer – something monumental, dazzling and of searing intensity.
From the first Paysage au disque of 1906, on the other side of his Self-portrait, to the first circular forms he painted in 1913, Delaunay, inspired by astral theories, the movement of propellers and the halos of electric lamps, sought to move past the limits imposed by the format of the canvas by incorporating a gyratory dynamic into his compositions.
The second part of the exhibition is devoted to the spectacular interior design projects that Delaunay (together with the architect Félix Aublet) created for the Palais des Chemins de Fer and the Palais de l’Air, and which caused a sensation at the International Exhibition of 1937.