*1885 in Gradiesk, Ukraine
†1979 in Paris, France
Sonia Delaunay was a Ukrainian-born French artist, based primarily in Paris, working across painting, printmaking, interior decorating, and textile and fashion design. In 1905 she moved to Paris to study at the Académie de la Palette. Sonia Terk married Robert Delaunay in 1910. Afterward, Sonia Delaunay executed her first abstract work in 1911: a patchwork quilt for the cradle of her newborn son. Its contrasting intense colors suggested new ideas about space and movement and together they pursued the study of color, influenced by the theories of MichaelEugéne Chevreul. They adopted the stylistic label ‘simultaneity’ to distinguish their work which sought to convey the dynamism of modern life by the juxtaposition of color. She exhibited at the Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin in 1913, 1920 and 1921. Upon their return to Paris in 1921 after spending the WW1 years in Madrid, the Delaunays befriended the Surrealists and Dadaists. Sonia soon started clothing their wives and costuming their avant-garde theatrical productions. In 1924 she opened her own workshop, L’atelier simultané. During the 1930s she and Robert Delaunay became preoccupied with public art and with projects for neon advertising. Both artists painted large-scale murals for the Exposition Universelle (Paris, 1937), where Sonia worked in the pavilions for air and rail transport. The Delaunays were energetic promoters of abstract art: they joined the Abstraction–Création group in 1931 and were founder-members of Réalités Nouvelles in 1939. She was the first female living artist to receive a retrospective at the Louvre in 1964 and was made an officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1975. Delaunay’s works are held in leading public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre George Pompidou, Paris; and the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.