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Women in art have been faced with challenges due to gender biases in the mainstream fine art world. They have often encountered difficulties in training, travelling and trading their work, as well as gaining recognition. Though women artists have been involved in the making of art throughout history, their work, when compared to that of their male counterparts, is often both overlooked and undervalued. There's a long list of female artists but today I want to focus on the first living woman to have a retrospective at the Louvre: Sonia Delaunay

Don't miss the oppurtunity to see more about the latest research inside the abstract movement...

 

Who was Sonia Delaunay?

  • Sonia Delaunay was a multi-disciplinary abstract artist and key figure in the Parisian avant-garde. Alongside her husband, Robert Delaunay, she pioneered the movement Simultanism. Her exploration of the interaction between colours has created a sense of depth and movement throughout her oeuvre.

 

Where was Sonia Delaunay born?

  • She was born Sonia Illinitchna Stern to a Jewish Ukrainian family. At the age of seven she went to live with her comparatively wealthy uncle Henri Terk and his wife, Anna, in St Petersburg, Russia. The Terks offered her a privileged and cultured upbringing in St Petersburg. Nevertheless, her childhood memories of Ukraine remained with her and she often referred back to the ‘pure’ colour and bright costumes of the Ukrainian peasant weddings.

 

Sonia Delaunay, Rythm, Drawings & Works on Paper, 1971. Courtesy Galerie Alexis Lartigue .

 

How Sonia Delaunay was influenced?

  • Sonia studied drawing in Karlsruhe, Germany, and in 1905 moved to Paris, where she was influenced by the Post-Impressionists and the Fauvists. She married the artist Robert Delaunay in 1910, by which time she was painting in the style known as Orphism, which involved the harmonious juxtaposition of areas of pure colour. 

 

Why is Sonia Delaunay a great artist? 

  • Sonia Delaunay was one of the primary propagators of Orphism a movement founded by her husband Robert. Delaunay extended the visual exploration of this theory to a range of fields beyond painting, developing an entire career in textile design. Entranced by the innumerable possibilities of colour – she once described it as “the skin of the world”, she turned the couple’s apartment into a crucible for experimentation. She started with its walls, whitewashing each surface before covering it with hues she invented then named.

If you are a fan of the new evolution on abstract artworks take a glance at this selecitions: Matteo Negri, Richard Caldicott, Jessica Snow

 

Sonia Delaunay and two friends in Robert Delaunay’s studio, rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris 1924. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Courtesy Tate Modern.

 

What movement does Sonia Delaunay belong to? 

  • Alongside Robert, she created the concept of simultanéisme (“simultaneity”) – they would later patent the word – where contrasting colours alongside each other create rhythm and movement. By matching primary and secondary colors (red with green, yellow with purple, and blue with orange) to create a kind of visual vibration, Robert Dulaunay developed a new type of expressive, abstract paintings. He called this exploration "Simultaneous Contrast," but the movement became officially known as "Orphism" and Sonia was one of its chief practitioners.

 

In what ways does the work of Sonia Delaunay bring together the concerrnes of artist and architects? 

  • Sonia Delaunay had the incredible ability to extended Orphist principles in several areas: decoration, stage sets, and other applied arts. One of the factors for which she is distinguished more than other members of the contemporary avant-garde has been the attention in the field of textile. Indeed, her success brings her to be very important in a vast range of performing arts including theatre and dance. 

 

Briefly...Why you have to know Sonia Delaunay? 

  • Delaunay was a prominent early Modernist, alongside Picasso, Derain, and Braque | Delaunay experimented with abstraction in the applied arts and built a successful business around her designs | Aside from her business, Delaunay collaborated on costume designs for the ballet, theater, and film | The global distribution of her textiles and fashion templates through department stores and boutiques, shot her to stardom in the fashion world as well as the art world | Delaunay’s self-designed Paris apartment functioned as a salon for fellow creatives | The French government commissioned designs from Delaunay for the 1937 International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life | Delaunay’s painting career regained momentum in the 1950s, with a rash of solo shows popping up in France and beyond | She was the first living woman to have a retrospective at the Louvre.  

 

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world. 

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