Galerie des Modernes

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Sonia Delaunay

Rythme Coloré, Orphism

(Hradyzk, Ukraine, 1885 - Paris, 1979)

Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay, born Sara Illinitchna Stern, is an Ukrainian painter born in Gradzihsk on November 14, 1885. Born into a modest family, she was adopted at the age of five by her uncle Henri Terk, a lawyer from St. Petersburg.  In this well-to-do family, Sonia receives an excellent education and learns French, German and English.

She moved to Paris in 1905, where the Fauvist currents and the post-Impressionist inspired her first paintings. She follows the courses of the Academie de la Palette. Her first marriage with the gallerist Wilhelm Uhde in 1908 allowed her to integrate influential literary and artistic circles. Many artists come to dine with them, among others Pablo Picasso, Braque, Vlaminck, Derain, Kees Van Dongen. She meets the one who becomes her second husband in November 1909: Robert Delaunay (1885-1941).
Sonia and Robert receive every Sunday the other artists of the Salon d'Automne such as Fernand Léger, Juan Gris and Fernand Metzinger as well as the friends of Sonia, including Elizabeth Epstein who introduces Vassily Kandinsky.

It is at this time that Apollinaire invents the term "Orphisme" to describe the simultaneous creations of Sonia and her husband. Abstract movement born from cubism and characterized by the association of very bright colors and geometric shapes as well as the influence exerted by the color of a surface on that of adjacent surfaces. A theory that Sonia puts into practice as well with her paintings as with her clothes.
Soon, Sonia Delaunay opens to other forms of expression than painting.

With her husband Robert, she participated in the creation of ballets, particularly in cooperation with Diaghilev, and became friends with the "Delaunay band", which included Tristan Tzara and Philippe Soupault, among others. A designer of fashion and ceramics, her work, continued after Robert's death in 1941, earned her the honor in 1964 of being the first woman to be honored at a retrospective at the Louvre Museum during her lifetime. Decorated with the Legion d'Honeur in 1975, she died in Paris on December 5, 1979.

In 2015, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris dedicates a major retrospective that highlights the importance of her activity in the applied arts, her specific place in the European avant-gardes, as well as her major role in the abstraction of which she appears among the pioneers.

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