It was quite the week studying Sonia Delaunay.
Sonia picked up her brushes again and began painting in a style similar to the quilt. Her first large-scale painting in this style was Bal Bullier (1912–13), a painting known for both its use of colour and movement.
Around this same time, Cubist works were being shown in Paris and her husband Robert had been studying the colour theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul. Robert and Sonia called their experiments with colour in art Simultaneous Contrast but it officially became known as Orphism. By matching primary and secondary colors (red with green, yellow with purple, and blue with orange) to create a kind of visual vibration, they (though the credit often goes to Robert) developed a new type of expressive, abstract paintings.
In 1912, while visiting poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, Sonia met the poet Blaise Cendrars. Sonia said that his work “gave me [her] a push, a shock.” In a collaboration with Cendrars, Sonia designed a 2 meter-long accordion-pleated book which merged his 445 line poem La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France) with her art. The book, published in 1913, is considered a milestone in the evolution of artist's books.
November 14th was Sonia's birthday and November 15th was Georgia O'Keeffe's birthday. So that led to me to looking for similarities between the two artists.
In 1914 the Delaunays were vacationing in Spain when they were taken by surprise by the outbreak of war at home. They decided to stay in Spain and spent the next few years traveling there, staying with various friends.
In 1916 Sonia exhibited with Robert in Lisbon and had a solo exhibition in Stockholm.
Since the birth of her son Charles, Sonia had inherited a monthly income from the rental of a house in St. Petersburg. However during the Russian Revolution, properties owned by the Terks were seized by the Bolsheviks and that brought an end to her financial support. Sonia began looking for other ways to make money.
Looking for a new source of income the Delaunays turned to the stage. In 1917 Sonia designed costumes for Sergei Diaghilev's production of Cleopatra while Robert did the stage design.
Sonia also began to work in interior design. She opened her own shop, Casa Sonia selling her designs for interior decoration and fashion.
When Cleopatra premiered in London, the costumes were a sensation and Sonia became a household name. She continued to show her work alongside Robert and in solo exhibitions.
In 1921 the Delaunays returned to Paris. Sonia made clothes for private clients and friends. She created 50 fabric designs using geometrical shapes and bold colors, commissioned by a manufacturer from Lyon. Her fabric designs became so popular that she eventually started her own company with Jacques Herm in 1924 and began a relationship with the Holland-based department store Metz & Co. the following year that lasted more than three decades.
She continued to design sets and costumes for the stage and now films. Her interest in the Dada art movement led to a fashion collaboration with poet Tristan Tzara. She created "dress-poems" with designs featuring color combinations inspired by his words.
Sonia didn't paint much during this time. She focused on parenting and trying to make a living in order to support Robert's artistic career. When she exhibited her work it was usually alongside Robert as he was considered the artist.
This week I got started on these two portraits inspired by Sonia.