Sonia Delaunay, the Applied Art and her “Simultaneous Lab”

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

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Translation by Chiara Cordoni
Internet resources

I came across a photo, the one I propose as the cover of this article, looking for other material, as it happens most of the time. And I fell in love with it. In fact, I realized that I knew some of the works of her husband, Robert Delaunay, but evidently I had never deepened her knowledge, otherwise it would not have been possible not to discover Sonia.

Sonia Delaunay Terk was born in Ukraine in 1885, artistically trained in St. Petersburg where she remained until 1906, when she settled in Paris heavily influenced by Gauguin and Van Gogh. She married the painter Robert Delaunay in a second marriage, whom she considered the poet of color, following him on the path of abstraction.

She creates her first work of applied art in 1911: a bedspread made using the patchwork technique.

 “Couverture de Berceau” (1911) Sonia Delaunay

In Sonia Delaunay’s “simultaneous lab” sartorial art works are born with geometric designs and colors based on the optical law of simultaneous contrasts according to which, by combining mostly complementary colors, their brightness is increased due to an optical effect. The shapes and the tailoring of dresses are extremely simple to highlight the geometric compositions and the chromatism.

Miss Molitor and Mrs Monnier wearing

Simultaneous dresses – Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay – coat for Gloria Swanson

Dress Sonia Delauney, 1928-1929 Musée Galliera de al Mode de la Ville de Paris

The Delaunay Archive in Paris houses the watercolor or tempera sketches that she used for the design of fabrics, dresses and furnishing textiles.

Until the 1920s she worked in the field of fashion and simultaneously devoted herself to painting, considering these two fields closely connected. From these experiences in 1927 she wrote the book The influence of painting on fashion

“The direct sensitivity of the eye fixed on nature tries to reproduce the multitude of elementary tones whose juxtaposition gives the retina the sensation of a unique color. A tint that seems uniform is formed by the combination of a myriad of different shades, perceptible only to the eye that can see. It is an atmospheric and not a synthetic vision. It is the breakdown of colors into multiple elements, taken from the colors of the prism, and therefore formed from elements of pure colors”

The careers of Robert and Sonia Delaunay are inseparable but their respective work bears the signature of their personalities.

Sonia Delaunay died in Paris in 1979.

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