Taking advantage of the vast space the tower inhabits, Delaunay retraced the motion of the eye as it follows the trajectory of the structure up to the sky and back down again. As the eye moves from the tree in the foreground to the distant tip of the tower, and follows the curved branch across the face of the building and travels down the column of clouds, the tower begins to swing back and forth between foreground and background, shifting between its position as an autonomous three-dimensional object and its part as an element of pattern in the picture surface as a whole.¹ These optical effects become even more apparent in Delaunay’s later works from the Window series, which led him to a higher level of abstraction.
Eiffel Tower with Trees marks the beginning of Delaunay’s “destructive” phase: the solid form in his earlier works becomes fragmented and begins to crumble, though, unlike the objects of the Cubists’ investigations, the tower here still remains distinguishable from the surrounding space. This works shows the beginnings of the artist’s use of light to permeate and fracture solid form, splintering his subject into a kaleidoscope of shattered elements. As Delaunay’s study of the energy and immateriality of light became more intense, his works began to express more clearly the artist’s belief that light is the essence of all being—“the only reality”—and our perception of it the path to harmony.