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Sonia Delaunay | Mother of Abstraction

From: MoMa, The Museum of Modern Art
"We are...only at the beginning
of color research (full of mysteries
still to be discovered)...."
Sonia Delaunay-Terk (13 November 1885 - 5 December 1979)

Red and green, blue and orange, yellow and violet: these color combinations were vital to the artistic practice and theory of Sonia Delaunay-Terk, whose vast body of work-paintings and drawings, prints and illustrations, textiles and furnishings, clothing and accessories-enthralled its earliest viewers, users, and wearers.
While living in Paris in the 1910s, Delaunay-Terk and her husband, Robert Delaunay, began to explore the visual properties of contrasting colors-colors opposite one another on the color wheel.

The pairing of two such colors, they realized, heightened the optical intensity, making both colors appear more vivid than they would on their own.

Studying color inside and outside of the studio, in their own creations and in Parisian museums, galleries, and exhibitions, Delaunay-Terk and Delaunay pursued a shared passion for hues made brilliant, even dynamic through their relationships to each other.
"[19]12, [19]13, [19]14, what rich and explosive years for Robert and me!" Delaunay-Terk later recalled. "We had rediscovered the moving principle of any work of art: the light, the movement of color".

Delaunay-Terk’s lifelong fascination with color emerged during her childhood in the Ukrainian village of Gradizhsk, where she was born Sara Stern in 1885.
In a memoir published the year before her death, she would write of "memories of the peasant weddings of my country, where the red and green dresses, ornamented with many ribbons, flew about in dancing".
Sara became Sonia at the age of seven, when her working-class parents sent their youngest daughter to live with wealthy relatives in St. Petersburg.

In the household of Henri Terk, her maternal uncle, Sonia Terk enjoyed a privileged upbringing replete with private schools, international travel, and art lessons.
With the support of her uncle, she left St. Petersburg for Germany as a teenager to advance her study of art.
"There is just one thing I need: to have a place where I can be alone, even if only for one hour a day", she recorded in her diary shortly before leaving Russia.

"I have already decided that, as soon as possible, I will settle in Paris or London, life is broader and happier there".

As planned, Terk moved to Paris following her studies in Germany.
And as predicted, life in the French capital proved "broader and happier".

After painting seriously for several years, Terk held her first individual exhibition in 1908; she married Robert Delaunay in 1910.
Together, the couple developed what they called "simultanéisme" ("Simultanism"), a mode of art centered not on the representation of real-world figures, objects, or scenes but rather on the "simultaneous contrast" of colors.

According to Delaunay-Terk, the phrase "simultaneous contrast" came from a 19th-century scientific treatise on color theory that her husband admired, but that she felt was less significant to her own practice than sustained experiments in collage.
Using pieces of brightly colored paper and fabric, the artist created quilts, curtains, and lampshades for her home, as well as "simultaneous dresses" that she herself wore around Paris.
In 1913, Delaunay-Terk announced the publication of the "first simultaneous book".

A collaboration between her and the writer Blaise Cendrars, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Joan of France) extends Simultanism from the realm of color into the realm of words and images, and space and time.
The book comprises a lengthy sheet that unfolds to reveal Cendrars’s poem at right and Delaunay-Terk’s illustrations at left, an unusual format that allows for the synchronous contemplation of both art forms while also evoking the lengthy, trans-Siberian train journey that provides the book’s plot.

Moreover, both the poem and the illustrations juxtapose near and far, past and present-juxtapositions that critics and scholars have related to new technologies in transportation and communication.

From the 1910s to the 1970s, Delaunay-Terk applied her Simultanism to painting, design, and fashion.
Portuguese Market, undertaken when the artist and her family lived in Portugal during World War I, depicts a towering heap of fruits and vegetables.
Yet the true protagonist of the painting is color: at center, a luscious orb-perhaps a melon-rendered in rounded stripes of orange, yellow, green, and red; to either side, bold arrangements of sometimes glossy, sometimes matte pigments that suggest the sights, smells, and sounds of a bustling marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, color is a prominent feature of Delaunay-Terk’s descriptions of Portugal.
"The light was not intense", she later remembered, "but it enhanced all the colors-the multicolor or dazzling white houses of sober design, the peasants in folk costumes, the materials, the ceramics that had amazingly pure lines of ancient beauty".

The Iberian country reminded Delaunay-Terk of Ukraine, and these reminiscences would shape her work in subsequent years.
Whether she was devising fabrics for department stores, costumes for plays, or murals for international exhibitions, Delaunay-Terk looked back to the craft traditions-in particular, the vibrant colors and rhythmic patterns-of her childhood. At the same time, she looked ahead to the future.

In a 1926 lecture on fashion delivered at the Sorbonne University, for instance, Delaunay-Terk argued that modern women needed modern clothing.
Out with corsets, and in with comfortable, colorful garments that enabled active lives.
"We are, however, only at the beginning of color research (full of mysteries still to be discovered), which is the basis of the modern vision", the artist concluded.

"We can enrich, complete, develop this color vision further-others besides ourselves can continue it-but we cannot return to the past". | Source: © MoMa, The Museum of Modern Art

From: Wikipedia
Sonia Delaunay (13 November 1885 - 5 December 1979) was a Ukrainian-French artist, who spent most of her working life in Paris.
She was born in Odessa (Ukraine, then part of Russian Empire), and formally trained in Russian Empire and Germany before moving to France and expanding her practice to include textile, fashion, and set design.

She co-founded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes, with her husband Robert Delaunay and others.

She was the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, and in 1975 was named an Officer of the French Legion of Honor.

Her work in modern design included the concepts of geometric abstraction, and the integration of furniture, fabrics, wall coverings, and clothing into her art practice. | Source: © Wikipedia

Sonia Delaunay-Terk / Соня Терк (Odessa, 14 novembre 1885 - Parigi, 5 dicembre 1979) è stata una pittrice Ucraina naturalizzata Francese.
Fu più attiva in Francia, diventando la prima artista donna vivente ad avere una retrospettiva al Louvre oltre ad essere nominata ufficiale della Legione d'Onore francese.

Nata a Odessa, ma trascorse la sua infanzia a Hradyz'sk, un villaggio vicino a Kremenčuk.
Studiò inizialmente a San Pietroburgo e nel 1903 seguì un corso di disegno a Karlsruhe, in Germania.
Nel 1906 si trasferì a Parigi, dove dipinse opere ispirate a Paul Gauguin e a Vincent van Gogh e dove, nel 1910, sposò il pittore Robert Delaunay.

Già orientata verso una pittura di puro colore, Sonia affiancò il marito nelle ricerche sul colore e sulla rifrazione della luce, in cui l'effetto dinamico è espresso dalle sole modulazioni del colore e della luce che conferiscono all'opera un tono lirico, approdando al movimento chiamato Orfismo (o cubismo orfico; termine che deriva da Orfeo, mitico musico della mitologia greca).

Sonia Terk cercò di portare l'Orfismo oltre i confini della pittura: a partire dal 1913 realizzò stoffe a contrasti simultanei, creazioni astratte di carta e tessuto e caratteri di stampa per libri a colori simultanei, cioè con rapporti cromatici e caratteri tipografici diversi e con il testo stampato in verticale.
Tra le due guerre, Sonia realizzò i primi vestiti astratti ed affiancò il marito in alcune grandi decorazioni per l'Esposizione universale di Parigi del 1937.

Dominio incontrastato di Sonia rimase però l'arte dell'arazzo e del tessuto, che essa rinnovò profondamente sostituendo alle decorazioni tradizionali dei motivi geometrici di sorprendente intensità cromatica, tipici della sua pittura.
Nel 1927, per spiegare il senso della propria opera (i tessuti e gli abiti "simultaines") scrisse "L'Influences de la peinture sur le mode", in cui spiegava "che una tinta che sembra uniforme è formata dall'insieme di una miriade di tinte diverse" è la scomposizione delle tinte in elementi multipli, presi dai colori del prisma.

Da questa concezione derivarono abiti fatti sostanzialmente di colori, a cui il taglio semplificato e le fogge diritte offrivano campi perfettamente piani per esprimere al meglio le loro potenzialità di rapporto e interferenza.
Dopo la Seconda guerra mondiale continuò ad esporre nelle principali mostre le sue opere di arte astratta.
Sonia Terk Delaunay morì il 5 dicembre 1979 a Parigi.

Nel mese di marzo 1960, la Galleria d'arte moderna di Torino dedica a Robert e Sonia Delaunay una mostra, in cui compaiono 107 opere dei due artisti.
Nel mese di aprile 2006 si è tenuta una mostra dedicata a Sonia Delaunay a Bellinzona in Svizzera (Cantone Ticino), presso il Museo Villa dei Cedri.

A ottobre 2014 si è inaugurata una sua ampia retrospettiva al Musée d'Art Moderne di Parigi, con esposizione di circa 400 opere.

Nella primavera del 2015 la stessa mostra è stata presentata alla Tate Gallery di Londra. | Fonte: © Wikipedia