Orphism. Orphism or Orphic Cubism is the name given in 1913 by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire to the colorful and abstract tendency of Parisian Cubism that exalts color and light, relating them to Orpheus , the character of Greek mythology who, for his superhuman handling of the lyre represents the conjunction of music and poetry. Possessing elements typical of the mystery cults, it is also often referred to as Orphic mysteries.


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  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Definition
  • 3 Works of Orphism
  • 4 Features
  • 5 Sources


The Orphic movement represents a confrontation with the religious traditions of the Greek city and, ultimately, a new conception of the human being and his destiny. Under the name of the mythical Orpheus, singer and tragic traveler from the Hereafter, a series of texts arise that preach and attest to this new religiosity, a doctrine of salvation about man, his soul, and his destiny after death.

Orphism moves exclusively on a religious plane. It is a sect that questions the official religion of the Hellenic peninsular cities. In particular, at two levels: one of theological thought, the other of practices and behaviors. Orphism is, fundamentally, a religion of texts with the cosmogony , theogony and interpretations that these do not stop producing. In essence, all this literature seems to be elaborated against the dominant theology of the Greeks, that is, that of Hesiodand his Theogony. As Orphism is an inseparable literature of a kind of life, the break with official thought involves no less great differences in practices and behaviors. He who chooses to live in the Orphic way, the bios orphikós, presents himself, first of all, as an individual and as an outcast, is a wandering man, similar to those Orpheus-telestes who go from city to city, proposing to the particular their recipes of salvation, walking around the world like the demiurges of the past. Members of a sect on the fringes of politics, people of sacred books and texts, and at the same time practitioners of their mystery rites and a peculiar asceticism (with strict precepts such as not eating meat or spilling animal blood or wearing linen cloths) , the Orphic left a long mark on various texts,


It is the art of painting new sets with elements not taken from visual reality, but totally created by the artist and endowed by him with a powerful reality. It is pure art. Aesthetic meditations.

Orphism works

Apollinaire placed within the Orphism or Orphic Cubism the works of Fernand Léger , Francis Picabia , Marcel Duchamp and, above all, Robert Delaunay , who acted as standard-bearer for this trend.

At this time a controversy arose over the role that Frank Kupka’s work , never quoted by Apollinaire, would have played in defining Orphism . In any case, the term Orphism has been very imprecise and has more value for its poetic charge than for its critical and historical value.


  • Exaltation of the pure color that is “form and theme”.
  • Dispense with the identification of the pictorial space.
  • Gradually replace images of nature with colored light shape


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