Updated: Jun 12
Ukraine/ France 1885–1979
Sonia Delaunay’s abstract compositions were directly inspired by the traditional quilts she saw during her childhood in the Ukraine. At five, she went to live with a wealthy uncle in St. Petersburg and took his surname, Terk. She studied art in Karlsruhe, Germany, and beginning in 1905, in Paris, where she spent most of the rest of her life. Both prolific and innovative, she extended her artistic talents to fine art, fashion, interior design, theater designs, book illustration, and other decorative arts.
In 1910, she married the French painter Robert Delaunay,and together they developed Orphism, an artistic style that prized color over form. A pioneering abstract artist, Sonia Delaunay’s works consist of bright hues and bold repeating patterns inspired by Fauve painters, like Henri Matisse. In 1918, she designed her first costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s famous Ballets Russes. Delaunay also collaborated with couturiers and designed shop interiors and the fashions within. In 1937, she and her husband created large-scale murals for the Paris World’s Fair. She was highly successful and had numerous solo and group exhibitions during her lifetime. She was also honored with many awards, such as the French Légion d’Honneur (1975), Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (1958), and a gold medal for her two murals at the Paris World’s Fair (1937).
She has had an enduring influence on art and fashion as a pioneering artist and designer. She was known for her vivid use of colors and geometric shapes, which helped to shape the modernist movement. Her work in textile design and costume design helped to blur the boundaries between art and fashion. Delaunay also explored the use of abstract shapes and colors in her paintings, which anticipated the later development of abstract art. Overall, her influence can be seen in a wide range of artistic disciplines and continues to be felt today.