(1885 - 1979)
Sonia Terk Delaunay was active/lived in France, United States, Russian Federation, Ukraine. Sonia Delaunay is known for decorative painting, design, orphism.
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Sonia Delaunay was born in the Ukraine in 1885 and raised in St. Petersburg. After studying drawing at Karlsruhe under Schmidt-Reutter she came to Paris in 1905 to be close to avant-garde circles. She studied at the Academie de la Palette, where Ozenfant and Dunoyer de Segonzac were fellow students. Her early work was influenced by the Fauves; some of her pictures from this period have an expressionist edge that contrasts with the gaiety of her later work. She had a short-lived marriage to Wilhelm Uhde.
Biography from Denis Bloch Fine Art
Her first show was in 1908; she married Robert Delaunay in 1910. She did not exhibit her paintings again in any number until 1953, twelve years after her husband's death. Although she would not compete with her husband, Sonia painted throughout her life.
Delaunay was not regarded as a great artist, but she was important. Her work was dismissed as being too decorative; but she did not diminish painting, she elevated the decorative arts. With her husband, she developed a style, sometimes called orphism, that was a spin-off of cubism. She was part of the radical drive to purify and elevate art through abstraction. At the same time, she helped direct art toward the gently decorative, a natural development, since decoration is itself generally abstract.
She worked continually throughout her long life in many artistic media beside painting. From the creation of a pieced quilt for her son in which she synthesized Russian peasant blanket design with Cubism, she moved on to collage, bookbinding, book illustration and eventually, to costume and theatre design, fashion design and decorative arts. She died in Paris in 1979 at the age of ninety-four.
Submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
National Museum of Women in the Arts Catalogue
Mark Stevens in "Newsweek Magazine", March 17, 1980
"The Oxford Companion to 20th Century Art", edited by Harold Osborne.
Russian born painter, graphic artist and designer Sonia Terk Delaunay
was active in Paris and the wife of painter Robert Delaunay. Her
original surname was Stern, but she adopted the name Terk from a
wealthy uncle who raised her in St. Petersburg. A friend of the family,
Max Liebermann encouraged her to paint.
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Like Marc Chagall, Sonia
Terk emigrated from Russia to Paris in the first years of the twentieth
century, joining Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Rouault, and Vlaminck in the
remaking of art in the Post-Impressionist era. She settled in
Paris in 1905 and, after a short-lived marriage of convenience to
artist Wilhelm Uhde, she married Robert Delaunay in 1910.
the birth of their son, Sonia spontaneously made a patchwork quilt for
Charles' crib: "About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son a
blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses
of Russian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangements of the
pieces of material seemed to me to evoke Cubist conceptions and then we
tired to apply the same process to other objects and paintings."
couple became associated with the development of Orphism*—a highly
abstract art movement which paralleled the geometry of Cubism* but with
a much brighter color palette. Sonia's first large scale painting
in this new style was Bal Bullier (1912-13) a work known for
its use of color and movement. It is said that painter Paul Klee
was so taken with Terk-Delaunays' patterning of squares from a 1912
illustrated book, that they became an enduring in his own work.
the 1910-1920s, she focused upon bringing this new artistic lyricism
into the world of design, transforming Art Deco* fabrics into vibrant
high fashion clothing, wall coverings, furniture textiles, as well as,
theatrical costumes. In the 1930s, Terk-Delaunay returned to a
renewed focus on painting, joining the Abstraction-Creation group in
seeking to create an art based upon non-representational elements,
often geometrical, and continuing to focus on color as central to
painting. The group was trans-national, and including among its
members Jean Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky and Piet
Mondrian. In 1937 Sonia collaborated with her husband on a mural
for the Paris Exposition.
After Robert Delaunay's death in 1941,
she continued to work and exhibit regularly as a painter &
designer, often turning to printmaking. In 1963 Terk-Delaunay
donated 58 of her own works and 40 of her husband's to the Musee
National d'Art Moderne, Paris. She became the first woman ever to
be exhibited at the Louvre during her lifetime when the museum mounted
an exhibition of the works the following year.
In an essay she
wrote for her 1967 retrospective at the Musée National d'Art Moderne,
Delaunay wrote of her 1920s experiments in color: "they were and remain
ranges of colors, and based on the purified conception of our
painting…My research was purely pictorial and in plastic terms a
discovery which served both of us in our painting. Rhythm is
based upon numbers, for color can be measured by the number of
Sonia Terk-Delaunay died in 1979 at the age of 94
with no regrets in her life. "Everything I've done, I've had fun doing"
she remarked on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
am attracted by pure colors. Colors from my childhood—from the Ukraine.
Memories of peasant weddings in my country in which the red and green
dresses, decorated with many ribbons, billowed in dance."
Select Museum Collections:
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
Tate Gallery, London
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