“Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm
where the very ancient and the distant future meet.”
Sonia Delaunay, 1978
If Sonia Delaunay would have lived now, she would have been an extremely successful entrepreneur, artist and polyglot. And that’s exactly what she was in the early 1900’s in Paris! Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) was a pioneer of abstraction who spent a lifetime experimenting with colour in her search for pure painting. She brought painting and the art of colour into the everyday life – through fashion, theatre, textiles, tapestry, fabric design, mosaics, furniture, interior design, books, typography, drawing and painting. No wonder that her retrospective exhibition, which i saw in Paris (Musée d’art Moderne – moving to Tate Modern by 15 April 2015), is a whirlwind of artistic expression. The curators did a great job in showcasing not only an overview of her tremendous output but as a visitor you also get a really good sense of who she was and were she came from.
Sonia Delaunay was born as Sonia Terk in Odessa (Ukrain) but spends most of her childhood with a wealthy uncle in St Petersburg. At the age of 18 she left to study painting in Germany before settling in Paris where she spent most of her life, apart from significant periods in Spain and Portugal to escape the war.
‘As they wake up, the Delaunays speak painting,’ commented Guillaume Apollinaire, who had stayed at their apartment-studio in the Rue des Grads-Augustins in 1912. With her husband, the artist Robert Delaunay, she opened their home on Sunday afternoons to artists, poets, writers and musicians. Sonia Delaunay engaged with the ideas from both the French and Russian avant-gardes and in doing so managed a creative fusion that marked her work as unique.
While the Delaunay’s invented a new pictorial language together (Simultanism), Sonia developed it in an original way and applied it to everyday life without distinguishing between fine and applied arts. A remarkable artist to be discovered in a remarkable exhibition.
All pictures and everything you ever wanted to know about Sonia Delaunay can be found in the well researched catalogue ‘Sonia Delaunay’, 2014 accompanying the exhibition.