Robert and Sonia Delaunay
couple Robert and Sonia Delaunay embodied modernity in a unique way that
attempts to link art and its formal consequences with an application in
life. At its opening in 1997, the Deutsche Guggenheim exhibited Robert
Delaunay’s series under the title, Paris
Visions. An exhibition in the Centre Pompidou in Paris provides a
comprehensive survey of the two artists work.
"Du rouge au
vert tout le jaune se meurt / Paris Vancouver Hyeres Maintenon New York
et les Antilles / La fenetre s'ouvre comme une orange / Le beau fruit de
la lumiere." Calligramme, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1918
1912 the french poet and art critic
Guillaume Apollinaire labelled the pictures of Robert Delaunays
"secretive" (franz. orphique) and thus coined the term "
orphism." Yet Robert Delaunay’s art is just as difficult to describe as
the music of the lyre player Orpheus from Greek mythology.
series that was created between 1909 and 1914, Saint-Severin,
Eiffel Tower, City Sights and Windows comprise the most
important phase in the work of
Robert Delaunay. Inspired by the movements, the new electric light and the
new means of transportation such as balloon, zeppelin, automobile and
airplane, he developed a synthesis of impressionism and cubism with his
intensive colour painting. He founded abstraction picture for picture out
of the colour and light of modern society.
Ville de Paris.
La femme et la tour, 1925
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
Delaunay’s works met
with great enthusiasm in Germany too (more about this
here). They were a strong influence on the German expressionists such as
Kandinsky, Franz Marc and August Macke who belonged to
The Blue Rider. Thus works by Delaunay were also shown in 1911 at the
first and most important exhibition of The Blue Rider in Munich.
The first exhibition dedicated solely to Delaunays work was in the Berlin
gallery called Der Sturm.
The Deutsche Guggenheim also gave
a reverent demonstration of the close relationship between Delaunays and
Germany. When the new Kunsthalle in Berlin was jointly founded by the
Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation and the Deutsche Bank in 1997 and
presented their first exhibition, they showed
Paris Visions: Robert Delaunays series, where the artist’s great
series of paintings were first presented in a one-man show.
these paintings, Robert Delaunay made one of the most important
contributions to the development of the new understanding of art in Paris
at the beginning of the 20th Century. His wife, the painter Sonia
Delaunay, spread the new aesthetic with artistic know-how, bringing it
into the everyday in an enterprising way. She designed interiors, clothes
and costumes. Both artists embody in a singular way that modernity which
seeks to link art and the formal consequences to an application in life.
Robert Delaunay: Rythme, joie de vivre, 1931
Sammlung Deutsche Bank
An excellent view of Robert and Sonia Delaunay’s work is
presented in an
exhibition at Centre Pompidou in Paris that traces the couples innovative
and ingenious dialogue that was an integral part of their creative process
from the beginning of the century up to the 60’s. It emphasizes the role
of painting for modernity and the decisive impact they had on it through
their use of color, light and abstract movements.
Robert Delaunay: Autoportrait, 1905-1906
Centre Pompidou Collection, Musée
national d'art moderne
Sonia Delaunay and Charles Delaunay Donation,
©L & M Services B.V Amsterdam
Photo: CNAC-MNAM Dist.
RMN, Jacqueline Hyde
The couple became
acquainted in 1909 through the gallery of Wilhelm Uhde. They married one
year later. Robert Delaunay, who was born in 1885 in Paris, had begun his
artistic career as decorative painter in 1902 in Belleville which he
continued, under the influence of Monet and Gauguin, as autodidact on the
coast of Brittany. The Centre Pompidou shows the Self-portrait
(1905-1906) as his last painting during this period. Born in the Ukraine
in November 1885 as Sarah Stern, Sonia Delaunay had been adopted at the
age of five by her uncle Henri Terk. In 1905 she began studying art at the
Academie de la Palette in Paris, notedly inspired by the
Both artists were strongly influenced by the theories of
the French chemist
Eugene Chevreul, who in his book De la loi du contraste simultane
attempted to explain the simultaneous perception of divergent colours.
Already in 1910,
Sonia Delaunay developed the simultaneous contrast of light rainbow
colours as a preferred stylistic device, known as simultaneism. With
Contrastes simultanes, she created 1912 an abstract picture in which
colour, form and sujet are simultaneous.
With astonishing speed
Sonia Delaunay managed in the years following to establish her bright and
colourful art in all areas of daily life – beginning with advertising
book covers and illustrations, fashion, decorations and even
costumes for the theatre. In this way she had a significant impact on
textile design during the twenties. For Robert Delaunay, Chevreul’s book
was to introduce his "constructive phase" in which he juxtaposed
contrasting and complimentary colours in a synthetic and harmonious
Sonia Delaunay: Les Montres Zénith, 1914
Centre Pompidou Collection,
Musée national d'art moderne
Sonia Delaunay and Charles Delaunay
©L & M Services B.V Amsterdam
CNAC-MNAM Dist. RMN