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Apr 15 - Aug 09

Tate Modern
London,SE1 9TGUK
  • Sonia Delaunay Simultaneous Dresses (The three women) 1925. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid © Pracusa 2014083

  • Sonia Delaunay in her studio

  • Bathing suits designed by Sonia Delaunay, c1920s.


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Sonia Delaunay retrospective at Tate Modern

Tate Modern dedicates a major exhibition to Russian-born Jewish artist Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), one of the most important female artists of the 20th century, marking the first ever UK retrospective dedicated to her prolific work, almost 40 years after her death. Spanning over her sixty-year career, the exhibition casts light on the artistic practice of the famous artist that is considered to be one of the key figures of Parisian avant-garde and of one of the pioneers of abstract art. Apart from her unique use of color and her groundbreaking geometric compositions, Delaunay was also one of the first female artists to merge art and fashion, having experimented throughout her career not only with textile and clothes, but also with interiors, furniture, wall coverings and stage set design.

Married to well known painter Charles Delaunay, her work has often been overlooked. Tate Modern’s exhibition, in this sense, serves as an opportunity to revisit her experimental work and, as the curators state, to consider her contribution to art and design clearly and fully, in its own right. Sonia Delaunay took, with her husband, the color theories of Michel Eugéne Chevreul to the next level, inventing Simultanéisme, referring to the use of simultaneous contrasts of color that when placed together affect each other, creating the vivid impression of movement. Simultanéisme was employed by both artists in painting, textiles and decoration and would be later described by famous poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire as Orphism.

Tate Modern’s exhibition examines the whole spectrum of Delaunay’s work, from her early paintings the she created when she moved from Germany to Paris in 1906 to study at the Académie de la Palette, influenced by the work of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse and Derain, to her collaborations with artists and poets like Blaise Cendrars and Guillaume Apollinaire. It also covers her designs for the Metz & Co textile department in Amsterdam and Liberty in London, her collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev for the costumes of Ballets Russes’ Cleopatra, and her bespoke creations for celebrities like Gloria Swanson, Nancy Cunard, Lucienne Bogaert and Gabrielle Dorziat.

Delaunay’s work brought together the modern world of movement, technology and urban life, and her avant-garde take on wearable art went on to define a whole era. Delaunay represented the modern woman of her time, one that is not afraid to be curious, push boundaries, take risks and experiment with different forms of art and design, and, under this perspective, her work is more relevant than ever. Tate Modern’s exhibition will remain on view until August 9, 2015, and is accompanied by a book and a specially commissioned short film, starring model and fashion icon Caroline de Maigret as a reincarnated version of Sonia Delaunay.