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Art HERstory: Sonia Delaunay-Terk


Art HERstory: Sonia Delaunay-Terk

Art HERstory: Sonia Delaunay-Terk

Ever met someone who is always talking, but has nothingto say? I think we all know of a garrulous gal who is always blabbering about something irrelevant. What about the quiet people who often go unnoticed? A lot of the time they have the most to say, but deliver their message in a non-verbal manner. Sonia Delaunay-Terk (1885-1979) was one such person. She wasn’t an attention freak, or even someone who constantly spoke. She let her art speak for itself.

'Market at Minho' (1915). This piece was created during Sonia's travels to Portugal. She says she was 'inspired by the beauty of the country.'

'Market at Minho' (1915). This piece was created during Sonia's travels to Portugal. She says she was 'inspired by the beauty of the country.'

Her art career began because of teacher’s encouragement. At the age of 16 Sonia was a student in a prestigious secondary school in Russia. One of her instructors took note of her sketching skills and suggested art school. Two years later, Sonia took her teachers encouragement and her belongings and moved to Germany to attend art school. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe where she remained until 1905.

'Composition 30' (1930). Sonia's patters were my favorites. I wish I could take this pattern and sport it around town on a mini skirt.

'Composition 30' (1930). Sonia's patters were my favorites. I wish I could take this pattern and sport it around town on a mini skirt.

Fresh out of her teens, Sonia took her tush to Paris where she enrolled at Académie de la Palette, another art school. I’m sure she expected an institution of creative encouragement, but instead she walked into an environment where instructors were critical of her work. Sonia often played hookie from class and spent her days in the open space of art galleries and museums. Her absentee days are what gave Sonia artistic influence. The images from Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Rousseau inspired her work from that moment forward.

You're sure to turn a head or two in one of these swimsuit designs. Again, Sonia utilizes the Orphism technique she co-founded.

You're sure to turn a head or two in one of these swimsuit designs. Again, Sonia utilizes the Orphism technique she co-founded.

Paris was also the birthplace of Sonia’s first romance. Well, kind of at least. In 1908, she met and married German homosexual art gallery owner Wilhelm Uhde. The pair became man and wife to she the mouths of Sonia’s parents who disapproved of her dreams in art. No matter how non-traditional,  the relationship was mutualistic: Sonia got creative support  and a career advantage while the Hubby could keep is sexual orientation under wraps for the time being. The marital “bliss” was brief. Sonia met her next husband, Robert Delaunay, in her current husband’s art gallery.

The painting exhibits the Orphism technique, the use of geometrical shapes and bold colors, in its purest form.

The painting exhibits the Orphism technique, the use of geometrical shapes and bold colors, in its purest form.

Once Sonia and Robert were together, life began to speed up. Sonia’s signature style, Orphism, was coined by art critic Guillaume Apollinaire. He noticed her unique style of cubism which was first exhibited in a quilt she made for her son. The Delaunay’s traveled across Europe until 1921 when the settled in Paris.

In her later life, Sonia began to make clothing. Her sketches still include bright colors and geometric shapes, as her art did.

In her later life, Sonia began to make clothing. Her sketches still include bright colors and geometric shapes, as her art did.

By the time the family chose its permanent home, Sonia has moved on from painting and was not adjusting her focus to fashion and costume design. She’d already designed costumes for plays and was now making clothing for close family friends. She even opened a fashion boutique in 1924.

'Bal Bullier.' The circiling forms in this painting were taken from dance moves. Sonia toook not of the way dancers moved and translated it onto canvas.

'Bal Bullier.' The circiling forms in this painting were taken from dance moves. Sonia toook not of the way dancers moved and translated it onto canvas.

The end of 1934 brought Sonia back to painting. She was working on designs for the Exposition Internationale des Artes et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life) in Paris.

Before passing in 1979, Sonia earned the honor of being the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibiton in the Louvre.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

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