Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay. Atelier simultané 1923 – 1934
Fondazione Marconi Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Milan
23 febbraio – 31 marzo 2012

Sonia Delaunay
On February, 22nd the Fondazione Marconi is very pleased to announce the exhibition Sonia Delaunay. Atelier simultané 1923 -1934.

The exhibition is dedicated to the work by Sonia Delaunay, an artist that has transformed the history of art and costume of the last century.

Born in 1885 in Ukraine, her country has been always an important source of inspiration for her work. She has always have had on her mind the colours of clothes of Russian peasants, as the patchwork quilt she made for her son Charles in 1911.

She moved to Paris in 1905 and here she was influenced by Van Gogh and Gauguin’s work and the fauvism. In 1909 she met Robert Delaunay and they got married the following year. They shared an intense feeling for painting and for colours as the essence of painting.

Robert Delaunay writes “Colour, which raises from light – as Apollinaire wrote -, is the base of the painter’s means. This is how the painter works with physical elements, which must be dominated by his will.” The colours, distributed on the canvas, create connections which ricreate in the eyes of the observer, “what is generally called optical blend.”

Their research, based on Chevreul’ theories on colour and on light refractions, led them to the Orphism movement.

From 1913 Sonia Delaunay turns her attention to tridimensional works: fabrics, clothes, materials, environment with simultaneous contrasts and abstract creations with chromatic relations. In 1923 a Casa in Lione was interested in her drawings for fashion design and in 1924 the artist opens the Atelier Simultané: a workplace characterized by a perfect balance, where the conventional barriers among areas could be torn down.

The exhibition, set up on the two floors of the exhibition space, hosts a significant part of the work by Sonia Delaunay: about two hundred gouaches from 1923 – 1934, where it’s easy to spot her research on colours, on the relation between shape and the background, and her interest for textures and various preparatory studies.

For the gouaches made between 1923 and 1934, Sonia Delaunay spent a great deal of time doing preparatory works which are conserved in the Libri Neri. In the gouaches, the artist anticipates themes developed later by other artists such a Dorazio, Morellet, Calder, Vasarely… even if with different features.

Sonia Delaunay was born in 1885 in Gradiesk, Ukraine, as Sonia Terk Stern, she was raised in St. Petersburg and she soon developed a strong aptitude for art. She studied drawing at the Academie of Karlsruhe, then in 1905 she moved to Paris, where she attended the Académie de la Palette and she started painting under the influence of Post-Impressionism. In 1908 she showed her works at Wilhelm Uhde’s gallery, whom she married the following year. This was a short-lasting marriage, and in 1910 the artist married Robert Delaunay. Together they start a research on light and colour that will come at Orphism movement. Since 1910 she devotes herself to the study of light and of applied arts, focusing her attention to the simultaneous contrasts and to the refraction of light on various supports, experimenting also the collage. In 1913 she had a show at the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon, then she took part in an important group show dedicated to the international avantgardes hosted at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin and the following year in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. She had different solo shows in various european venues and she took part in the major cutting-edge exhibitions. After the October Revolution she stops receiving the inheritance that assured her family economic stability, and her commitment to the Arts becomes more constant.

She designs ballet sets for Diaghilev (Cléopâtre, 1917) and for the piece by Tristan Tzara Le coeur à gaz (1923), she starts making clothes, fabrics and tapestries and she starts working in the industrial design field. In 1925 she had big success at the International Show of decorative arts in Paris, in the same year she opened a store selling clothes and accessories with the designer Jacques Heim. In the Thirties she joins the group Abstraction-Création and she partecipates at their shows. ln 1937 she works with Robert Delaunay for the decorations of the Esposizione Universale in Paris and the following year the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam dedicated to her a wide retrospective exhibition. After the war she takes part in the foundation of the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, conceived for the promotion of various international artistic movements.

The major museums have set up important exhibitions dedicated to her work since 1950 and she has get various awards for her important part in the diffusion of contemporary art. She died in Paris in 1979.