Published on March 16th, 2015 | by Amy Lynne Hayes0
Sonia Delaunay: A Retrospective
She’s a lady who had her fingers in almost every creative endeavor imaginable. Painting, fashion, bookbinding, home decorations, prints and textiles, the retrospective of artist Sonia Delaunay shows it all. Held by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the exhibition – the first retrospective of Delaunay’s work since the 1960s – showcases more than 400 of her works from the early 20th century to the late 1970s.
Born in 1885 in what is today Poltava Oblast in Ukraine, Delaunay was born to working class Russian parents. At a young age she moved to St. Petersburg to live with her mother’s brother, Henri Terk. Terk, a wealthy Jewish lawyer, and his wife Anna were able to afford Sonia a better upbringing. The pair adopted her in 1890.
Through the Terks, Delaunay was exposed to the art museums and galleries of St. Petersburg, and was able to attend school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany. From Germany the young artist went to Paris, where she continued her studies at the Académie de La Palette in Montparnasse. It was 1905, and Paris was abuzz with the works of the Post-Impressionists and Fauvists. Names such as Henri Matisse, Gauguin and Van Gogh influenced the young artist.
Delaunay’s true entrance into the Parisian art scene came, however, with her marriage to Wilhelm Uhde. Uhde, a German art gallery owner, happened to be homosexual. The pair divorced when Sonia met Robert Delaunay, whom she married in 1910 and stayed with until his death in 1941. The couple had one son, Charles.
The union with Robert marked the launch of new, creative output. Drawing from the style of the abstractionists and specifically Pointillism, the Delaunays founded a new version of cubism called Orphism. A strong interest in the interaction of colors provided the foundation for much of Sonia’s works from this period and onwards.
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the couple had been in Spain, and chose to move to Portugal instead of returning to Paris. Delaunay continued to paint and found success through both collaborations and solo exhibitions. During this time, she also became involved in theater and interior design, using her talent to branch out and secure more income during unstable times.
The couple eventually returned to Paris in 1921. Delaunay continued to work in all forms of creative pursuits, including making clothing, costumes, furniture, textiles and paintings. She remained involved in the arts, having several successful businesses along the way, until her death in 1979.
Sonia Delaunay’s signature style includes bold use of color. A term called simultané became her registered trademark, referring to experiments she and her husband would conduct with color and design. The two influenced each other to create resulting compositions.
The exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne includes samples of the artist’s work from across all of her various stages. It is organized chronologically, taking patrons through a visual timeline of Delaunay’s creative process. The retrospective will run until February 22, and will move to the Tate Modern in London for the late spring and summer months.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11 Avenue du Président Wilson 75116 Paris
+33 1 53 67 40 00
Tues – Sun 10 am to 6 pm
Late opening Thurs 10 pm (exhibitions only)
Full rate 11 euros
Concessions 8 euros