Sonia Delaunay: The EY Exhibition at Tate Modern
This exhaustive retrospective showcases the work, which in turn reflects the varied and vibrant life, of Sonia Delaunay. The pieces collected span her lifetime, the influences of the lands and time periods she inhabited and the many fields and movements in which she participated, with a firm footing in the abstract. Ranging through set and costume design, fine art, furniture making, textile factories, a fashion house, aeronautics, mosaics, magazine covers, album covers, and collaborations with poets – she pursued, to the fullest, every discipline that engaged her, and placed her unique stamp upon each one.
Born in Odessa in 1885 and raised by her wealthy uncle in Russia from the age of five, this planting in wealthy European circles from an early age was to have a lasting effect. Her marriage to Robert Delaunay proved a rich artistic union as they co-founded the Orphic Cubism movement. His death in 1941 presented a marked shift in the tone of her work.
In regards to her textiles work the question is asked whether, as a woman, she was relegated to this field while her husband pursued the fine art aspect of their partnership. The response is that rather, she was liberated to do more, to create businesses, or at least successful ventures out of every sphere that was of interest. Fashion and textiles were not a restriction, but one of many avenues of expression. An example of her alternate abilities can be seen in the bold and beautiful pieces displaying her ardour for flamenco and ballet. The sweeping brushstrokes mirror the graceful movements of those dance forms, wrapping the viewer up in an elegant whirl, entwined with the movement on the canvas.
Showcasing pieces from her Simultané fashion house, which began in 1925, the rolls of fabric, costumes and items of clothing bear her bold patterns. At times they are hypnotically repetitive and at other times haphazard and disjointed. The clothing she made for herself was a form of wearable art, not to garner attention, but so that her art might be an ever-present manifestation of her imagination.
One thing is for certain, Delaunay was a busy woman. This thorough, well thought-out and detailed exhibition displays the various abilites of a woman whose talent and passion knew no bounds. Her influence on modern art, as well as the path she paved for women in art, is nothing less than extraordinary.
Photos: Rosie Yang
Sonia Delaunay: The EY Exhibition is at Tate Modern until 9th August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.