Greeting Card for Galerie Bing, Paris
Sonia Delaunay was born in 1885 in Gradizhsk, Russia (now Ukraine) and adopted by her maternal uncle at the age of five, taking his name (Terk). She grew up in St. Petersburg in an atmosphere of music and art, and learned several foreign languages, then moved to Germany to study drawing in 1903. In 1905, she travelled to Paris, studying at the Académie de la Palette, and discovering the work of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard, as well as Matisse and Derain. In 1908 she married the German collector and art dealer, Wilhelm Uhde (1874–1947), whose Montparnasse Galerie Notre-Dame des Champs showed her first solo exhibition. Through Uhde, Sonia encountered many painters, including Picasso, Georges Braque, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Robert Delaunay (1885–1941). In 1910, Sonia divorced Uhde by mutual agreement and married Delaunay, with whom she had a son in 1911.
Together Sonia and Robert Delaunay pursued the use of abstract colour in painting and textile design. One of her first large-scale works was the painting of the Bal Bullier (1912–1913), a popular Parisian dance-hall. The Delaunays were ardent promoters of abstract art, became members of the Abstraction-Création group in 1931 and organized the first Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1939. In 1953 the Galerie Bing mounted a solo show, and her work was also included in exhibitions in Paris and Rome. In 1964 (following her donation of 117 works by herself and her husband), Delaunay became the first living female artist to have a retrospective at the Louvre. Delaunay also held her second solo show at the Galerie Bing, for which she designed a striking poster and this signed invitation card employing bold colour and equally bold graphic forms.
In 1964 Delaunay formed a close friendship with the poet Jacques Damase and in July 1965 they collaborated on the book, Rhythmes et Couleurs (also in the Ben Uri Collection), which brings together Delaunay’s abstract visual ‘poetry’, using circle and square motifs, with Damase’s verbal rhymes. Throughout her career Delaunay used colour as an expressive language bringing about new ‘poetic’ combinations in abstract paintings and textile designs. Ben Uri holds six works by Delaunay in the Collection.