Sonia Delaunay and the “Art Simultané”
To qualify Sonia Delaunay’s artwork would contradict all the enterprise of this multi-disciplinary artist. Born in 1885 in the country of Odessa (Ukraine), she is adopted by a wealthy uncle who allows her the access to Education, Art and the museums of the big European capitals. She arrives to Paris in 1905, for her artistic studies, but, in the mood of the beginning of the XXst century, resistant to the appropriateness, the rule and the dictate, she turns away from it to rather wander in the galleries where she discovers the Fauves, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin,…
Through her first husband, a German curator, she meets her second’s, Robert Delaunay. Together, the Delaunay start a research on color that will be the essence, the content and the form but also the line of a new painting for a non-figurative art. Influenced by the Fauvism, she first presents works whose subjects and models are marked, slashed by the brutality of the shades. Creative perfection to aim at, the music offers to the artists, at this time, the philosophical assessment that will underlie their respective works. Powerful associations of rhythms and melodies, the compositions gather in the idea of “simultaneous” what makes a new challenge for poets and painters. Sonia Delaunay then progressively develops a lyrical use and signification of the color, close from cubism, between rhythm and shade. Repetitions of forms, structures but also colors, her paintings take a direction all her artistic propositions will follow.
From 1913 to 1917, she notably illustrates poems of Blaise Cendrars, also obsessed with a “simultaneous” art. They will propose, as new language, an accordion edition of the « Prose du transsibérien et la petite Jehanne de France » about 2 meters long but folded up ten times to get a 18cm book format. In 1923, she gets an order of 50 drawings aimed for the production of fabrics. First unconvinced, she quickly perceives the interest of this offer and sees the opportunity to pursue her researches. The fabric will inspire her love for color as a medium for a “simultaneous” art. She incidentally will open a textile boutique from 1924 to 1926, named “Boutique Simultané”.
This simultaneism will found all Sonia Delaunay’s productions, from pictures, fashion, furniture or car design. Despite the almost political attempt of Apollinaire to associate the work of the Delaunay to the “cubisme orphique” (from the name of his poem “Orphée”), Sonia’s work has more in common with the abstraction, that refuses the figuration and doesn’t need any specified theme, but diverge from it by the importance given to the colors. Theatre or Cinema will cover and use her work (“Le Petit Parigot”). Sonia Delaunay dies in Paris in 1979.