Sonia Delaunay – a life in colour

Abstract art is only important if it is the endless rhythm
where the very ancient
and the distant future meet.”
Sonia Delaunay, 1978

Yellow Nude (detail) by Sonia Delaunay (1908)

Yellow Nude (detail) by Sonia Delaunay (1908)

patchwork cover for her son's cradle by Sonia Delaunay (1911)

patchwork cover for her son’s cradle by Sonia Delaunay (1911)

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.

Simultaneous Solar Prism by Sonia Delaunay (1914)

Simultaneous Solar Prism by Sonia Delaunay (1914)

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.

Sonia Delaunay with her students in her studio, rue Saint-Simon, Paris (1936)

Sonia Delaunay (standing) with her students in her studio, rue Saint-Simon, Paris (1936)

‘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.

Rhythm, mural painting for the 15th Salon des Tuileries by Sonia Delaunay (1938)

Rhythm, mural painting for the 15th Salon des Tuileries by Sonia Delaunay (1938)

textile designs by Sonia Delaunay (1934-35)

textile designs by Sonia Delaunay (1934-35)

Sonia Delaunay and Sophie Taeuber-Arp in Simultaneous bathing suits, on the beach at Carnac (FR-1929) and beach set designed by Sonia Delaunay (1928)

Sonia Delaunay and Sophie Taeuber-Arp in Simultaneous bathing suits, on the beach at Carnac (FR-1929) and beach set designed by Sonia Delaunay (1928)

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.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Sonia Delaunay – a life in colour

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s