Sonia Delaunay

Kenny Ackerman

Sonia DelaunaySonia Terk Delaunay is known for her bold paintings and murals. She also created gouaches, clothing, artists’ books, household items, and textiles.  Her work in modern design used geometric abstraction and pure color.

She was born 1885 in Odessa (Ukraine) to a poor family.  She was introduced to art by her wealthy uncle in St. Petersburg, where she was raised. Delaunay studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Karlsruhe in Germany.  By 1906, she was in Paris and discovered Paul Gauguin and the Fauve artists.  This is what influenced her passion for pure color and the affect it can have to on people.

Sonia Delaunay soon met Wilhelm Uhde, an art dealer and collector of modernist paintings.  They had a brief marriage, but she later married the love of her life, Robert Delaunay.  The two of them created a style called orphism, which was based on the dynamic power and simultaneous fusing of motion-with-color.  It was very abstract and often criticized as being too decorative.

In the 1920’s Sonia Delaunay was intrigued by the Art Deco movement and the fashion and textiles that came with it.  She did a lot of work creating wall coverings, textiles and costumes during this time.  By the 1930s, she returned to painting and joined the artist group Abstraction-Creation, which included other members such as Jean Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian.

After her husband’s death in 1941, she continued to work and exhibit.  She became the first woman to exhibit at the Louvre during her lifetime.  George Braque was the only man to have that honor at the time.  Sonia Delaunay died in 1979, in Paris at the age of 94.