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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Sonia Delaunay

b. 1885, Gradizhsk, Ukraine; d. 1979, Paris

Sonia Delaunay was a painter, printmaker, and textile designer whose work was influenced by the color theories of her day. Delaunay grew up in Saint Petersburg and moved to Paris in 1905, where she studied at the Académie de la Palette and made figurative paintings. In 1910, she married the artist Robert Delaunay, with whom she began to make abstract work in a style dubbed Orphism. This led to one of her most significant pieces: illustrations for a poem written by Blaise Cendrars, entitled La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France (The Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France, 1913). Following the Russian Revolution, Delaunay increased her design output in order to offset the loss of private income; during the late teens and 1920s, she worked on stage, clothing, and interior design. In the 1930s, she again turned her focus to painting and in 1937 she and her husband painted murals for the Paris Exposition Universelle. In 1964, Delaunay was the first woman to have her work exhibited at the Louvre and in 1974 she received the Légion d’Honneur.