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1. An ancient Greek mystery religion arising in the sixth century bc from a synthesis of pre-Hellenic beliefs with the Thracian cult of Zagreus and soon becoming mingled with the Eleusinian mysteries and the doctrines of Pythagoras.
2. often orphism A short-lived movement in early 20th-century painting, derived from cubism but marked by a lyrical style and the use of bold color.

[French orphisme, from Orphée, Orpheus, from Greek Orpheus.]

Or′phist n.


(Classical Myth & Legend) a mystery religion of ancient Greece, widespread from the 6th century bc onwards, combining pre-Hellenic beliefs, the Thracian cult of (Dionysius) Zagreus, etc
Orˈphistic adj


(ˈɔr fɪz əm)

a Greek religious movement of the 6th to 5th centuries b.c. whose mystic beliefs were expounded in poems allegedly written by Orpheus.


a short-lived development of Cubism c.1912 that attempted to enliven the original approach by subordinating the geometrical forms and using unmixed bright colors. — Orphist, n.
See also: Art
the religion of the Orphic mysteries, a cult of Dionysus (Bacchus) ascribed to Orpheus as its founder, especially its rites of initiation and doctrines of original sin, salvation, and purification through reincarnations. Also Orphicism. — Orphic, n., adj.
See also: Religion
References in periodicals archive ?
After more than a decade of practicing seances and collective experiments in automatic drawing, in 1906 af Klint initiated a body of work that brings together her skills as a painter with her otherworldly strivings and in many ways anticipates the later, far more famous breakthroughs of abstract pioneers between 1910 and 1913, including Wassily Kandinsky's first abstract watercolors, Frantikk Kupka's first Orphist works, and Robert Delaunay's first targetlike discs that resemble af Klint's totally abstract discs from the following year.
Such works are conventionally linked to Marsden Hartley's military abstractions of the 1910s, as well as to the Orphist "Discs" of Robert Delaunay of similar date.
Of all the centenary exhibitions, the mart show was the most intrepid, foregrounding the international spirit of avant-garde production on the eve of World War I, with particular reference to the circle of Expressionist, Cubist, Orphist, and abstract artists gathered around Herwarth Walden's Berlin journal Der Sturm (founded in 1910) and to the Russian Primitivists, Cubo-Futurists, and Rayists.