Sonia Delaunay – The emergence of the new woman : rhythms, colours and modernity

Camille Landreau LARA-SEPPIA, Allph@, University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, UT2J

The purpose of this study is to understand Sonia Delaunay’s work who is a famous artist of the twentieth century. She is a multifaceted woman considered at the same time as a designer, painter or also a printmaker, known for her works about bright colours. This creative woman become emancipated of conventions and artistic codes of her period to reveal her real identity.
Her art appears always of our time, of an astonishing modernity. A timeless art : by its diversity, its profound originality, its poetry and the strength of the personality of the artist. With her husband Robert Delaunay, they pursued the study of colour, influenced by theories of Michel-Eugène Chevreul. She said « In Robert, I have found a poet. A poet who did not compose with words, but with colours ».
The use of colour is very important in her work. First, in her paintings she wanted to create the movement by the colours. Then especially in her clothing line which embodied a new vision of the woman.
The new woman is liberated in terms of freedom of her body, emotions and expressions.
Simultaneous dresses whose concept is influenced by science of colours, reflect the importance between the body and the pattern. The human features : the head, the arms, the legs tend to take second place, we don’t notice them nearly because of the shape and the force of the textile design. The human figure is beginning to dissolve into these kinds of movements that the art itself is attempting to display.
The design and the pattern are more important than the body. Blaise Cendrars a poet, friend of her said in 1914 to describe the simultaneous concept : « on the dress she has a body ».
Sonia Delaunay makes of the colour a principle of the composition. The vibrating colours are exotic, deep, mysterious. The idea is to translate rhythms by using the contrasts, the geometrical forms. The connection between movement and modernity is anchored in this period.
In one of her diaries, she said : « the colour excites me. I don’t realize what I’m doing. Let us call it the instinct. » The simultaneous colour is the shock of colours, they explode, move and circulate in paintings or on textiles.
She is working with the contrast of colours. A very bright, saturated and pure colours place in juxtaposition. Your eyes start to vibrate and place the viewer in motion. The eyes observe and lingers over a pattern. The speed of the vision changes through the rhythms of the pattern.
She is an avant-garde woman with multiple talents and an open spirit. As we will be able to see, her ideas sometimes anticipated those of her time and influence even today new creators.
Everything is movement, rythm, colour and poetry with her. “The colour became a vital way of expression, as the power of speech. I play with colours like a new way of expression. A colour on a surface influences all the nearby colours.”