15 April – 9 August 2015
Celebrating the doyenne of the Parisian avant-garde with pieces from across her 60 year career, including painting, textiles, interiors and set design.
The first UK retrospective of the Ukranian-born artist celebrates her hugely successful and diverse career developed over a variety of media. Trained in Germany, she moved to Paris in in 1906 to join the burgeoning avant-garde, where she met and married Robert Delaunay and developed ‘Simultaneism’ a theory which focuses on the rhythm and movement of colour and abstract shapes.
Although Delaunay began with paint, her oeuvre rapidly expanded to include tapestry, textiles and mosaics. She was inspired by the new, modern world, especially technological ventures such as the Trans-Siberian railway and the aeroplane.
The incredible clothes she created prioritised movement and incorporated her colourful abstract designs, embodying this new and exciting period. They were supplied to Hollywood stars such as Gloria Swanson as well as Liberty of London, and her breath-taking, radical costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes were considered revolutionary.
In fact, her textiles were so popular that she opened Atelier Simultané, and the subsequent sales became the singular source of income for the couple after Sonia’s financial assistance from Russia failed. She was also celebrated for her work on interiors, designing a Madrid nightclub and the entire contents of her Parisian apartment.
After Robert’s death in 1941, she began to receive worldwide acclaim (biographers have often stated that she was overshadowed whilst he was alive), becoming the first living female artist to be given a retrospective at the Louvre in 1964 and named an officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1975. She continued working until the day she died, aged 94.
The seven-metre murals Motor, Dashboard and Propeller, created for the 1937 International Exposition in Paris, are exhibited for the first time in the UK.