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Delaunay Sonia
Pseudonyms,autonyms and aliases: Delaunay-Terk, Terk, Sarah, Sarrah, Elievna, Iliinichna 1885–1979

DELAUNAY (Delaunay-Terk, née Terk) Sonia (Sarah) Elievna (Ilyinichna)

November 14, 1885 (Gradizhsk, Poltava province) — December 6, 1979 (Paris)

Painter, graphic artist, master of decorative and applied arts, scene-designer

Sonia Terk was born to Jewish family. After removal to St. Petersburg in 1890, her uncle famous lawyer Henri Terk took the young girl into care. In 1903–1904 she studied at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe, under the guidance of Schmidt-Reuter; in 1905 — at the Palette Academy in Paris, under E. Aman-Jean, J.-E. Blanche and others.

The young painter was under the influence of V. van Gogh, P. Sezanne, H. Rousseau, the Fauves, German expressionists. Since 1908 she participated in different exhibitions. In 1908 German art historian, dealer and critic Wilhelm Uhde married her.

In late 1900s — early 1910s the artist attended the Salon for art and literature of Baroness d’Oettingen, where she met many representatives of art circles of Paris: B. Cendrars, G. Apollinaire, A. Ozenfant, D. de Segonzac, and R. Delaunay. In 1910 she divorced her first husband and married Robert Delaunay.

In 1912–1913 Sonia Delaunay together with her husband created new style of painting — orphism (or orphic cubism), which was based on color effects and dynamics hidden in color combinations. In 1913 she exposed her first orphism works at the Salon of Independents.

In 1910s Delaunay was engaged in decorative and applied arts, book illustration. She designed the poem Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jeanne de France by B. Cendrars according to principle of simultaneity, which she had worked out together with her husband. In 1912 she met G. B. Yakulov.

At the beginning of the First World War, Delaunay moved to Madrid. For some time she worked in Portugal. Delaunay made friends with I. F. Stravinsky, S. P. Dyagilev, and V. F. Nizhinsky. She created scene and costume designs for Dyagilev’s enterprise, in particular for the ballet Cleopatra (music by A. S. Arensky; Madrid, Barselona, 1918). She designed the casino opening in Madrid (1919).

In 1916 Delaunay exposed her works of applied art in cubism and orphism styles at the Autumn Salon. The personal exhibitions of the artist were held in Stockholm (1916), Bilbao (1919) and Berlin (1920).

In 1920 Sonia Delaunay returned to Paris. In 1923 she together with V. S. Barth and H. Granovsky designed the play The Gas Heart by T. Tzara, which was staged by the literary and artistic group Cherez (“Through”), in order to provide assistance to the Russian artists abroad. In 1924 Delaunay together with Jacques Heim opened the fashion house, where clothes, industrial costumes, prints, sketches of interiors and car designs were often shown. She also took part in the International exhibition of fine and decorative arts in Paris (1925).

In 1931 Delaunay became one of the founders of the avant-garde society Abstraction — Creation. In 1937 she was awarded gold medal for interior design of the French pavilion at Paris World Fair. In 1938 big personal exhibition of the artist was held in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. In 1939 Delaunay together with her husband organized the avant-garde Salon des Réalités Nouvelles (“New Realities”). Her works were exposed at the group exhibitions Concrete Art in the gallery Rene Drouin (1945), The first masters of abstract art in the gallery Maeght (1949) and others. The personal exhibitions of Delaunay were held in Paris galleries Bing (1954), the Louvre Museum (1964), the Museum of Modern Art (1967/1968).

At the end of her life, Delaunay created great cycle of abstract paintings Rythmes-Couleurs (“Color-Rhythms”), which were painted with gradient colors and moderate brightness.

In 1985 the exhibition, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, was held in the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

Sonia Delaunay was a prominent master of European avant-garde. In her early period, she often painted still lifes, portraits, and interiors of Paris cafés. In early 1910 she left figurative painting, and under the influence of cubism became interested in geometry and abstraction in art; she experimented on rhythm and color. Later Delaunay painted mainly non-figurative works. The artist’s works of 1930s were close to artistic styles of V. V. Kandinsky, P. Mondrian, B. Hepworth and M. Seuphor. In her works of industrial art (textile and fashion designs, ceramics) she was close to constructivism of V. E. Tatlin, A. A. Vesnin, and El Lissitsky.

Works by Sonia Delaunay are in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and others.

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