American Paintings and Sculpture
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Artist: Thomas Wilfred, American, 1889–1968

Abstract, Op. 91 (The Firebird)

1934

Metal, glass, gel filters, electrical and lighting elements, and a frosted-glass screen in a wood cabinet

Screen: 29 x 38 1/2 in., Overall: 90.2 x 104.1 x 26 cm (35 1/2 x 41 x 10 1/4 in. )
Gift of Thomas C. Wilfred
1983.66.2
Abstract, Op. 91 (The Firebird), Wilfred’s only static work among his small-scale lumia, features a shadowed form that suggests a bird, its triangular beak silhouetted against a spotlighted area of ultramarine blue. Arching diagonally downward from the beak, a gentle contour delineates the bird’s body and feathers, from which radiate vibrant red, orange, and yellow light. The palette echoes the color scheme of the original costume for the Firebird, the main character in the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s famous ballet of the same title, which debuted in Paris in 1910. Wilfred, who was then studying art at the Sorbonne, might have seen the performance.
Culture: 
American
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Lisa R. Brody et al., “Painting with Light,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2010): 119–21, fig. 2–3.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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