Tate Modern – Sonia Delauney

Tate Modern are holding an exhibition featuring Sonia Delauney, the first UK retrospective exploring her artwork, fashion, textiles, costume, set design, architecture and advertising and all spread across 12 rooms.

Tate Modern: Sonia Delauney Retrospective
Tate Modern: Sonia Delauney Retrospective

What it doesn’t include, at least directly, is any work by her husband Robert Delauney, making it very difficult to grasp the boundaries and overlaps between their work and styles which were frequently collabarative. I can understand why they’ve left him out – for fear of confusing the audience – but it leaves a large part of her art unexplained.

Sonia Delauney Yellow Nude 1908
Sonia Delauney Yellow Nude 1908

Her style moves from figurative through to abstraction and with the ebirth of her first son, from traditional art into textiles and practical furnishings.

Sonia Delauney Cradle Cover 1911
Sonia Delauney Cradle Cover 1911

Her art responded to the modern world, notably in the form of electric lights (Electric Prisms series) and the tango craze which she responded to with paintings half way between figurative and abstract. She worked on billboard projects for luxury brands such as Zenith.

Sonia Delauney Electric Prisms 1914
Sonia Delauney Electric Prisms 1914

Her commercial work expanded, their French apartment post WWI becoming a boutique, a workshop and fitting room for customers as well as their home. She designed costumes for the theatre, costumes and sets for the film serial Le P’tit Parigot (1926).

Sonia Delauney Door Poem 1924
Sonia Delauney Door Poem 1924
Simultaneous Dresses Sonia Delauney 1925
Simultaneous Dresses Sonia Delauney 1925
Sonia Delauney Bathing Suits c1929
Sonia Delauney Bathing Suits c1929

After the crash of 1929 she closed her business though she continued to take commissions. The couple were part of the geometric abstract camp.

Sonia Delauney Mural 1937 Paris Exhibition
Sonia Delauney Mural 1937 Paris Exhibition

With Robert’s death in 1941 she went to stay with artist friends Jean Aro and Sophie Tauber in Grasse to sit out WWII, returning to Paris in 1945.

Sonia Delauney Rhythm 1945
Sonia Delauney Rhythm 1945

In the 1950s she moved into gouache with a new energy, often in a smaller format where she could experiment with shape. Her Later years werecharacterised by large format creations and smaller formats in series. She illustrated a number of books of poetry, blurring the lines between abstract art and literature.

Sonia Delauney 1958
Sonia Delauney 1958
Sonia Delauney Syncopated Rhythm 1967
Sonia Delauney Syncopated Rhythm 1967

All about me!