Be Overwhelmed By The Simultaneous Colours Of Sonia Delaunay

By Silvia Baretta Last edited 42 months ago
Be Overwhelmed By The Simultaneous Colours Of Sonia Delaunay ★★★★☆ 4
Sonia Delaunay, Propeller (Air Pavilion) 1937. Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden © Pracusa 2014083. Photo: Emma Krantz
Sonia Delaunay, Propeller (Air Pavilion) 1937. Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden © Pracusa 2014083. Photo: Emma Krantz
Sonia Delaunay, Rhythm Colour no. 1076 1939. Centre National des Arts Plastiques/Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris, on loan to Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay, Rhythm Colour no. 1076 1939. Centre National des Arts Plastiques/Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris, on loan to Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay and two friends in Robert Delaunay’s studio, rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris 1924. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Sonia Delaunay and two friends in Robert Delaunay’s studio, rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris 1924. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Sonia Delaunay,Yellow Nude 1908. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay,Yellow Nude 1908. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, Nantes © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay, Electric Prisms 1913. Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, Gift of Mr. Theodore Racoosin © Pracusa 2014083    
Sonia Delaunay, Electric Prisms 1913. Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, Gift of Mr. Theodore Racoosin © Pracusa 2014083    
Sonia Delaunay, Flamenco Singers, known as Large Flamenco 1915-16  © CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay, Flamenco Singers, known as Large Flamenco 1915-16 © CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian © Pracusa 2014083


Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Many contemporary artists are expanding into other creative fields: we've seen Damien Hirst creating jewellery and Yayoi Kusama working with fashion brand Louis Vuitton. Sonia Delaunay was already branching out at the beginning of 20th century, and you can explore her extremely versatile talent at Tate Modern's current retrospective.

Delaunay's career started in Paris in the 1910s: influenced by artists such as Paul Gaugin and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, her first paintings still show interest in the human figure — like the Yellow Nude above — although the attention to strong, vibrant and vivid colours is already clear. After her marriage with artist Robert Delaunay in 1910, the two commenced a life-long research focusing on the perception of colours, which led to the theory of simultaneous colour-contrasts on canvas, called Simultanism.

Our favourite room here is the one dedicated to the 1937 Paris Exhibition, which contains three massive mural paintings produced by the Delaunays for the Palace of the Air, depicting a propeller, an engine and an instrumental panel. The technical representation of the machines is perfectly incorporated into complex abstract compositions, made even more striking thanks to the savvy use of colours.

A big part of Sonia Delaunay's career was dedicated to fashion: she first started creating 'simultaneous' dresses for herself and then developing her own artistic designs into fashion patterns. Her fashion brand Simultané was launched both in France and in the USA, and Delaunay was so respected and powerful at the time, she was commissioned to design the costumes for the 1918 production of Cleopatra at London Coliseum.

Although some of the artworks here might seem a bit repetitive, what's incredible about Sonia Delaunay is her ability to work and demonstrate her talent in such a vast range of artistic fields. She was definitely a woman ahead of her times and a great source of inspiration for modern artists.

The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay is on at Tate Modern until 9 August. Tickets are £16 for adults and £14 for concessions. We suggest you book in advance. Londonist saw this on a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 17 April 2015