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Biography

Sonia Delaunay-Terk was a Russian-French painter and designer. She is considered a representative of geometric abstraction.

After studying in Saint Petersburg and at several German art academies, including the Karlsruhe Art Academy, Sonia Terk came to Paris in 1904, where she married the art dealer Wilhelm Uhde in 1908. After this first marriage, which lasted a short time, she married the painter Robert Delaunay in 1910, with whom she was also closely connected artistically. Her artistic role models include Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Shortly after her arrival in Paris, she rose to become one of the most experimental artists in Paris. In 1913 she worked closely with the Swiss poet Blaise Cendrars, with whom she developed the idea of Simultanéism. An important testimony to this cross-genre collaboration is the first simultaneous book entitled Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France.

From 1912 she developed the so-called Orphism with her husband Robert Delaunay. This is a variant of abstract painting that originated in Cubism, in which circular structures with simultaneous contrasts in bright colours were created based on the colour system of the chemist Eugène Chevreul. The aim of Orphism was to contrast pure music with pure painting. Thanks to her significant contributions to the development of abstract painting (especially Geometric Abstraction), she is still considered today not only as one of the first female representatives, but rather as an important pioneer of this new art movement. Like Ida Gerhardi, but in the completely new abstract direction, she painted pictures of the dance hall Bal Bullier.

During the First World War from 1914 to 1918 Sonia Delaunay stayed in Spain and Portugal, and since 1915 in the seaside resort of Vila do Conde. There the Delaunay couple became friends with the Portuguese painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.

After her return to France, she remained more faithful to the abstract style than her husband, who died in 1941. In 1942 she worked in the south of France with Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Sonia Delaunay's artistic ideas were later also applied in her designer works of theatre decoration and costumes. In 1968, for example, she designed the ballet Danses Concertantes by the Russian composer Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky. In addition, Sonia Delaunay-Terk has created fabric designs, for example for the French actor and author Jean Poiret. In 1975 she was awarded membership in the French Legion of Honour. In 1976 she bequeathed her entire graphic work to the Centre Georges Pompidou. Sonia Delaunay-Terk died on 5 December 1979 in Paris.