About Sonia Delaunay

 

Sonia Delaunay Sarah Ilinitchna Stern was probably born on 14 November 1885 in Hradyzk, then Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, today in Poltava Oblast in Ukraine. At a young age she moved to St. Petersburg, where she was cared for by her mother's brother, Henri Terk. She was adopted by the Terks. She assumed the name Sonia Terk and received a privileged upbringing with the Terks. They spent their summers in Finland and traveled widely in Europe introducing Sonia to art museums and galleries. When she was 16 she attended a well-regarded secondary school in St. Petersburg, where her skill at drawing was noted by her teacher. When she was 18, at her teacher's suggestion, she was sent to art school in Germany where she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. She studied in Germany until 1905 when she decided to move on to Paris.

Sonia Delaunay Painting When she arrived in Paris she enrolled at the Académie de La Palette in Montparnasse. Unhappy with the mode of teaching, which she thought was too critical, she spent less time at the Académie and more time in galleries around Paris. Her own work during this period was strongly influenced by the art she was viewing including the post-impressionist art of Van Gogh, Gaugin and Henri Rousseau and the fauves including Henri Matisse and Derain. During her first year in Paris she met, and in 1908 married, German art gallery owner Wilhelm Uhde. It is assumed to have been a marriage of convenience to escape the demands of her parents, who disliked her artistic career, for her to return to Russia. Sonia gained entrance into the art world via exhibitions at Uhde's gallery and benefitted from his connections.

In 1911, Sonia Delaunay made a patchwork quilt for Charles's crib, which is now in the collection of the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. This quilt was created spontaneously and uses geometry and color. Contemporary art critics recognize this as the point where she moved away from perspective and naturalism in her art. Around the same time, cubist works were being shown in Paris and Robert had been studying the color theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul; they called their experiments with color in art and design simultanéisme. Simultaneous design occurs when one design, when placed next to another, affects both; this is similar to the theory of colors (Pointillism, as used by e.g. Georges Seurat) in which primary color dots placed next to each other are "mixed" by the eye and affect each other. Sonia's first large-scale painting in this style was Bal Bullier (1912–13), a painting known for both its use of color and movement.

Sonia Delaunay Painting

The Delaunays' friend, the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, coined the term Orphism to describe the Delaunays' version of cubism in 1913. It was through Apollinaire that in 1912 Sonia met the poet Blaise Cendrars who was to become her friend and collaborator. Sonia Delaunay described in an interview that the discovery of Cendrars' work “gave me [her] a push, a shock.” She illustrated Cendrars' poem La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France) about a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, by creating a 2m-long accordion-pleated book. Using simultaneous design principles, Sonia Delaunay Painting the book merged text and design. The book, which was sold almost entirely by subscription, created a stir amongst Paris critics. The simultaneous book was later shown at the Autumn Salon in Berlin in 1913, along with paintings and other applied artworks such as dresses, and it is said [who?] that Paul Klee was so impressed with her use of squares in her binding of Cendrars' poem that they became an enduring feature in his own work.