The work of French painter and designer is exhibited in Madrid evidencing her contribution to plastic arts during her stay in the city.
From July 4th to October 15th, Art, design and fashion will be exhibited, the work of French designer, Sonia Delaunay, an abstract art representative like her husband with whom she cofounded the Orphism movement.
For a while now, the work of this creator with monographic exhibits in Paris and London is being vindicated in Europe. She often lived in the shadow of her husband Robert, but now her work will be shown at the Thyssen with over 200 pieces that demonstrate the artist’s diverse creations: painting, set design, fashion design, interior design, advertising, etc.
Up to this point, the couple’s stay in Spain was commented as an brief anecdote in the history of their careers, but the sample, curated by Marta Ruiz del Árbol, highlights how Sonia Delaunay’s work was influenced by her experience in the Spanish capital, the place where she decided to fuse art with her life.
Her life in Madrid
At the beginning of World War I, the married couple was vacationing in Hondarribia when they decided to stay in Spain, settling in Madrid by the end of the year. While they were living there, Sonia was a copyist at the Prado Museum, she met Falla and developed a great interest in flamenco, creating several paintings about it.
The curator explains that Daulaunay’s painting was abstract while in Paris, but she became interested in figurativism in Spain.
The Delaunay couple founded the Orphism theory, which postulates tensions and optic vibrations by establishing a relationship between the colors that suggest a rhythm, much like in dance or music. In fact, the quilt she crafted in 1911 for her newly born son with fabric remnants (i.e. patchwork) is considered to be her first Orphist piece.
During her second experience in Madrid between 1917 and 1921, the artist reinvented herself when she went through an experimentation phase caused by economic problems. The artist traded painting for design, with a more commercial vision of her work.
She opened an interior design shop that also incorporated fashion and accessory design. With dresses, coats, ties, vests, jackets, beach outfits with bags and black and yellow stripped parasols she dressed modern women, truly making them seem like they belonged in a painting.
The exhibition’s curator commented that she found no trace of that business, reason why many believe the shop never existed and the artist assisted the clients in her own home. Her work is known mainly through photographs, because research on the location of her creations has not been very fruitful. A great example is a photograph published in 1920 where the daughters of the Marquesses of Urquijo are wearing Delaunay’s designs.
Sonia also collaborated with the design of Cleopatra figurines in the Diághilev’s Russian ballet during her stay in Spain. Moreover, she has commissioned the interior design of the Benavente Theater in the capital, which was restructured as the Petit Casino, a variety concert theater that no longer exists. In addition, she renovated the Campos Elíseos Theater in Bilbao. Sonia liked to visit Rastro, a popular flea market in Madrid, to by objects and reinvent them in a surreal or dadaist fashion.
Sonia Delaunay’s goal was to “transform objects and daily banality into a more elevated and artistic environment.” For her, decorating and dressmaking were “a job as noble as a still life or self-portrait.”
Art, design and fashion
Paseo del Prado, 8.
Visiting hours: Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Sundays from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Closed on Mondays.