Rythme couleur, 1962
Signed lower left 'Sonia Delaunay'; numbered lower centre 'F971'
Gouache and charcoal on paper
16 1/8 x 15 1/8 in, 41 x 38.5 cm
Sonia Delaunay’s art transcended the boundaries between fine and applied arts. Refusing to be categorised within the historically feminine notion of ‘craft’ art, Delaunay paved the way for many female...
Sonia Delaunay’s art transcended the boundaries between fine and applied arts. Refusing to be categorised within the historically feminine notion of ‘craft’ art, Delaunay paved the way for many female artists. Apart from painting she experimented with tapestry, fashion, costumes for theatre and films and set design. Considered an integral part of the Parisian avant-garde in the early 20th century - alongside her husband the French painter Robert Delaunay - Delaunay developed the artistic movements Orphism and Simultanism.
In 1912-13 the art critic, Guillame Apollinaire, first used the term Orphism to distinguish the Delaunays’ work from cubism generally. Deriving from the Greek poet and musician Orpheus, Apollinaire used the name to express the musicality and harmony of the Delaunays’ colour compositions. Although Apollinaire was a friend and collaborator of Delaunay, Orphism was not a term they used, preferring to define their work as Simultanism. The idea of Simultanism was born from Michel Eugène Chevreul’s book De la loi du contraste simultanée des couleurs. It used the notion that when complementary tones are together they ‘simultaneously’ enhance each other’s intensity.
Rythme Couleur is characteristic of Delaunay’s later paintings which had greater formal freedom in their rhythmic patchwork of abstract, bright forms. The strong primary and secondary colours vibrate off each other giving the work an emotional vitality. Delaunay created a large series of Rythme Couleur throughout her career. These works stand as a testament to her continual experimentation into the language of colour and ‘pure’ painting.
Born into a Jewish family in Ukraine in 1885, Delaunay studied in St Petersburg before travelling to Germany and Paris. Surrounded by the stimulus of contemporary German Expressionists, Fauves and Post-Impressionists including Gauguin and Van Gogh, Delaunay was driven to experiment with colour which she described as “the skin of the world”. Delaunay developed this fascination with colour and design through a number of creative outlets, but increasingly turned to painting following the death of her husband in 1941.
During the 1960s and 70s, Sonia Delaunay began to receive international recognition as she became the first living female artist to exhibit at the Louvre, just two years after creating Rythme Couleur in 1964. 114 works by herself and her husband were donated to the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris and she was awarded the French Legion of Honour (1975). Since her death in 1979, Sonia Delaunay has been the subject of major retrospectives around the world including Tate Modern in 2015, which was the first of its kind in the UK.
Private Collection, France
Artcurial, Paris, 30 May 2012, lot 41
Private Collection (acquired from the above sale)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Richard Riss and dated 24 October 2019