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The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay


After attending the Art Academy in Karlsuhe, Germany and the Academie de la Palette, Paris, Delaunay went on to create numerous works in painting, textiles, fashion and interior design, costume and stage set design. A visionary, her work covers various different styles of art and design including geometric abstraction and co-founding the Orphism movement. With her interest in dance, applied art and colour, Sonia and husband Robert Delaunay introduced the idea of simultanism, how different shades and colours can convey different messages and react when displayed next to each other. 

With various accolades including being the first living woman to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre and being named and officer of the French Legion of Honour, Delaunay’s work still lives on today, most recently at the EY Exhibition at the Tate Modern. 

The exhibition itself is a must-see, the use of colour, shape and abstraction takes you in to a different realm and really allows you to see life through the eyes of Sonia herself. Her art is so visual and exciting, playing with shape, colour and movement to convey different messages, feelings and emotions. Being able to walk through the extensive collection of her works throughout her years, you can see how contextual issues and current affairs affected her view on the world. An eye-opener, I would recommend this exhibition to anyone who enjoys art, textiles and design. Personally, the best parts of the exhibition, were the spaces dedicated to her outstanding contribution to fashion, including her visionary and conceptual illustrations, her well renowned hands on approach to garment technology and, of course, her remarkable sense of style in relation to the use of shape and colour.

Delaunay’s impressive fashion repertoire is often overshadowed by her numerous works of art, however, at the exhibition, you can see many of her fashion pieces, rows of printed textiles and even a fashion film created by her. I particularly enjoyed the film, where you got to see models wearing her innovative designs on a background of her bright and visually sound prints.

Sonia’s work in fashion and design led her to have her own fashion house ‘Simultane´’, where she created ‘wearable art pieces’ that were very well received and eventually went on to be commissioned to design for projects with Vogue, create costumes for Cleopatra at the London Coliseum and most notably to create new designs exclusively for Amsterdam luxury department store Metz & Co up until 1960. With her unique ‘everything by hand’ style and at-the-time radical ideas of design clothes for the life requirements of women i.e. allowing women to work, dance and play sport, Delaunay’s work still influences fashion today. Many of her prints look as though they could have walked off any catwalk from SS16. 

Overall, the exhibition in itself is extraordinary, a real homage to the great artist and designer and I would strongly recommend to anyone with an interest in art, textiles and fashion.

By Chandler Tregaskes

Check out the exhibition at the Tate Modern, open until 9th August 2015. 


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