Sonia Delaunay was a painter, textile designer and fashion designer. Ukranian born but moved to Paris to go to art school. She was influenced by cubism and, together with her husband Robert Delaunay, cofounded the Simultanism movement. This term was used by the Delaunays to describe the abstract art they were creating. Like the Neo-Impressionists, they were inspired by the writings of Michel Eugene Chevereul, a dye chemist who wrote about the affects of simultaneous contrast after coming across issues with the composition of colours in tapestries. In turn both Sonia and Robert exploited this colour illusion within their work, overlapping complementary colours in bold geometric patterns.
Sonia described how she designed everything around her, painting the walls in her home white to show off their art works, moving on to designing their furniture and softfurnishings.
When the First World War broke out the Delaunays were in Spain where they remained for the duration, returning to Paris only in 1921. On her return Sonia returned to fabric and fashion design, using their home as a fitting room for customers setting up the brand Simulatane in 1925. The market crashes of the late 20s and 30s caused her to close the business and the outbreak of the Second World War took Sonia and Robert to Montpellier where Robert died in 1940. Sonia’s work after Robert’s death took on a much darker colour palette perhaps influenced by her grief.
The Tate quote Sonia’s thoughts on colour below
Colour is the skin of the world.
Colour was the hue of number.
One who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.