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Last updated: 6-9-15
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Abstraction / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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Sonia Delaunay (Russia, 1885-France, 1979): Watercolor and Pochoirs

Delaunay 1 / Delaunay 2 / Delaunay 3

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Prints and Drawings: Prints by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Charles Camoin,
Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Henri Edmond Cross, Edgar Degas, Sonia Delaunay, Maurice Denis, André Derain,
Susanne Duchamp, Raoul Dufy, Jean-Louis Forain, Paul Gauguin, Marie Laurencin, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse,
Berthe Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Georges Rouault, Ker Xavier Roussel, Paul Signac,
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Maurice de Vlaminck, James A. McNeill Whistler, and others.

Drawings by Albert Besnard, André Barbier, Henri Edmond Cross, André Derain, Jean-Louis Forain, Natalia Goncharova,
Eva Gonzales, Mikhail Larionov, Marie Laurencin, Maximilien Luce, and Georges Rouault.

Hand-colored prints by Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

For a review of the show that concludes, "Art exhibits in Madison rarely get this good," click review.
Like Marc Chagall, Nataliya Goncharova and her lifelong companion Mikhail Larionov, Sonia Delaunay emigrated from Russia to Paris in the first years of the twentieth century, joining Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Rouault, and Vlaminck in the remaking of art in the early moments of the Post-Impressionist era. Sonia Terk Delaunay settled in Paris in 1905, met and married Robert Delaunay in 1910, and joined with him in the development of Orphism, a movement based in Cubism but determined to bring new lyrcism and color to the rather severe works of Picasso and Braque. Sonia, who was intent on merging art and everyday life, applied this principle of "simultaneity" (color suggesting motion) to clothing, which naturally moves and flows with the body. During the 1920s, she focused upon bringing this new artistic lyricism into the world of high fashion, transforming fabrics for fashion into a moveable artistic feast. In the 1930s, she returned to a renewed focus on painting, joining the Abstraction-Creation group in seeking to create an art based upon non-representational elements, often geometrical, and continuing to focus on color as central to painting. The group was trans-national, and including among its members Jean/Hans Arp, Jean Helion, Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitsky, and Piet Mondrian. After her husband's death in 1941, she continued to work as a painter and designer, turning often to printmaking as well. In 1963 she donated 58 of her own works and 40 of herhusband's to the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris, and became the first woman ever to be exhibited at the Louvre during her lifetime the following year when the Louvre mounted an exhibition of this gift. In 1975 she was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor. Since her death, her importance in the development of abstract art can be seen in the number of major retrospectives and the number of books published about her as sampled in the bibliography below. Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, a recent show at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum  (through June 19 2011), examinines the more practical side of Delaunay’s pioneering achievement. As Roberta Smith observed in the NY Times, “This beautiful, enlightening exhibition offers some alluring artworks, garments and accessories, especially a passel of radiant scarves. But it bets most of the house on fabric swatches — Delaunay’s textile designs — and succeeds with a display of some 90 gouache studies for textiles and their equally vibrant commercial results: more than 120 hand-printed silks, velvets and cottons laid out in large vitrines. Patterns ranging from geometric to floral variously revisit, amplify and presage much of the history of modern painting and may even deserve a place in that history.” The show, which included hand-painted fabric samples for clothing manufactures and photographs of models wearing the clothes made from those fabrics and sitting in cars painted according to her designs, moved abstract art out of the realm of theory and offered a vision for a brighter, more exciting world that could be taking form all around us. Several years ago we acquired a number of pochoirs done in the 1920s and published c. 1930; the portfolio from wich they came is listed in the bibliography of works containing prints by Delaunay in Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay. In an essay she wrote for her retrospective at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in 1967, Delaunay wrote that her experiments in color from the 1920s "were and remain ranges of colors, and based on the purified conception of our [hers and her husband Robert's] painting. . . . My research was purely pictorial and in plastic terms a discovery which served both of us in our painting. Rhythm is based upon numbers, for color can be measured by the number of vibrations" (Baron and Damase, Sonia Delaunay: The Life of an Artist [London: Thames & Hudson, 1995], 91-98). The pochoirs illustrated below continue her researches into the effects of color and design as a means of transforming the world and we are happy to present a number of them on this page and the two following. Some of them have already been sold, many are still available, but all offer a fascinating window into the vision of an artist who wanted to make the world a brighter and more interesting place.

Select Bibliography: Stanley Baron & Jacques Damase, Sonia Delaunay: The Life of an Artist (London: Thames & Hudson, 1995); Sherry A. Buckberrough, Sonia Delaunay: A Retrospective (Buffalo, NY: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1980); Florence Callu, Sonia & Robert Delaunay Collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1977); Arthur A. Cohen, Sonia Delaunay (NY: Abrams, 1988); Arthur A. Cohen, ed. The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay (NY: Viking 1978); Jacques Damase, Sonia Delaunay: Fashion and Fabrics (NY: Abrams, 1991); Michael Damase, Sonia Delaunay; Rhythms and Colours (Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1972); Sonia Delaunay & Tristan Tzara, La rencontre Sonia Delaunay - Tristan Tzara (Paris: Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1977; preface by J. Lassaigne); Michel Hoog, Robert et Sonia Delaunay, Inventaire des Collections Publiques Francaises 15, Paris, Musee National D'art Moderne (Paris: Editions des Musees Nationaux Paris, 1967); Michel Hoog & Simone Guillaume, Sonia Delaunay / Robert Delaunay (Nancy: Musee des Beaux Arts, 1972); Sandor Kuthy & Kuniko Satonobu, Sonia & Robert Delaunay Bern: Kunstmuseum Bern, 1991); Andre Lhote, Sonia Delaunay: Ses Peinture, Ses Objets, Ses Tissus Simltanes (Paris, Librairie des Arts Decoratifs, 1925); Axel Madsen, Sonia Delaunay, artist of the lost generation (NY: McGraw-Hill 1989); The National Gallery of Canada, Robert and Sonia Delaunay (1965); Matilda McQuaid and Susan Brown, ed. Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay (NY: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2011); Diana Vreeland, Sonia Delaunay: Art in Fashion (NY: George Braziller, 1994).
Untitled. Watercolor and crayon on paper signed "Sonia Delaunay 1917" in pencil lower right. Inscribed on the back: "Sonia Delaunay N° 13. Galerie Saint Laurent N° 115. F.W STEIN." Image size: 250x178mm. Price: SOLD.
Composition 7. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 252x197mm. Price: $850.
Composition 10. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 258x202mm. Price: $850.
Composition 11. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. Small chip top right and lower right corner not affecting image and not visible when matted. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 258x202mm. Price: $850.
Composition 12. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. Small smear descending from the bottom red swirl at left center. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 265x208mm. Price: $850.
Composition 13. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 253x198mm. Price: $850.
Composition 16. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. Slightly trimmed at bottom margin c. 50mm from bottom of image. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size:195x155mm. Price: $850.
Composition 18. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. Slightly trimmed at bottom margin c. 50mm from bottom of image. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size:255x205mm. Price: $850.
Composition 19. Original color pochoir, c. 1930. Published in Compositions, Couleurs, Idées (Editions d'Art Charles Moreau, Paris, 1930). I have not been able to find any information about the size of the edition, but I would guess that it was fairly small. Very small loss at lower left corner not affecting image. All pochoirs printed on wove paper heavy enough to stand by themselves if leaned against a wall or an easel. All sheets show some browning at edges of sheet. Image size: 232x178mm. Price: $950.

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