Like her husband, Robert Delaunay, Delaunay-Terk was a pioneer of abstraction. Both were members of the Orphist group, whose adherents explored color theory and optical effects and made paintings designed to catalyze profound psychic effects on viewers using color. Portuguese Market was painted while the couple was living in the seaside town of Vila do Conde in Portugal. Figurative elements of the scene, such as the male with a black hat at bottom right, are subsumed within swirling color. Orphists referred to abutted areas of intense color in their paintings as instances of "simultaneity," in which no hue dominated any other. Some of their thinking came from folk and decorative arts; indeed, Delaunay-Terk's work in decorative arts may have helped expand her understanding of the possibilities of abstract color.
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