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Soleil, tour, aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane)

Robert Delaunay (French, 1885–1941). Soleil, Tour, Aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane), 1913. Oil on canvas, 52 x 51 5/8 inches (132.1 x 131.1 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; A. Conger Goodyear Fund, 1964 (1964:14).

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Robert Delaunay

French, 1885-1941

Soleil, tour, aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane), 1913

oil on canvas

support: 52 x 51 5/8 inches (132.08 x 131.13 cm); framed: 61 5/8 x 61 5/8 x 3 1/8 inches (156.53 x 156.53 x 7.94 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

A. Conger Goodyear Fund, 1964


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signature, dated / lower right / r. delaunay 1913


by 1929, collection S. Delhumeau, Paris;
to Galerie d'Art Moderne, Basel, 1964;
sold to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, November 17, 1964


Paintings (visual works)

Work Type

Oil painting (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Robert Delaunay had great enthusiasm for the rapid change and technological developments of contemporary life in the early years of the 20th century. Sun, Tower, Airplane highlights three symbols of late 19th– and early 20th–century modernity: the Eiffel Tower, a biplane, and a Ferris wheel. Delaunay conveys his excitement about such marvels through energetic lines, shapes, and the warm, bright colors that radiate from a kaleidoscopic sun. Early on, the artist painted in a Neo-Impressionist manner, and from 1909 to 1911, he was briefly associated with Cubism. By 1912, however, Delaunay became increasingly preoccupied with the dynamics of color relationships and made his first “disc” painting; he deployed the motif as a symbol for the sun and, ultimately, the universe.

The poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire (French, 1880–1918) praised Delaunay’s work and coined the term “Orphism” to describe this new style, which was also explored by artists Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953) and František Kupka (Czech, 1871–1957). In this work, light energizes the canvas and Delaunay’s swirling discs form a prism through which viewers can recognize the icons of modern technology that inspired him.

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