Sonia Delaunay

Alternating rectangular sections of red and black lines that have the appearance of piano keys cover a bright white background; the repeating lines and high contrast between the colors has a dizzying effect.


Faded, black and white photo of Sonia Delaunay, a light-skinned woman whose dark hair is cropped at her cheekbones, seated with her legs crossed on a stool in front of a work station on which sit a few geometrically patterned artworks.

Sonia Delaunay (Ukrainian, 1885–1979) was a modern artist and designer who merged art and everyday life. Her work encompassed everything from paintings and drawings, painted ceramics, and neon light sculpture to posters, textiles, and costume designs. Born in 1885 as Sarah Stern to a Jewish laborer’s family in Gradizhsk, Ukraine, she was adopted at the age of five by her maternal uncle, Henri Terk, a wealthy lawyer in St. Petersburg, Russia. Showing artistic talent in her youth, she attended an art academy in Germany and later went to Paris, France, where she ultimately met her husband, Robert Delaunay (French, 1885-1941), also a painter. Together they developed the theory of Simultaneity, which is the sensation of movement created by placing contrasting colors side by side, a theory expressed in their paintings as well as in the textiles that Sonia Delaunay designed in the 1920s.


Alternating vibrant yellow and blue lines form staircase-like zigzags diagonally across a cream-colored textile, with horizontal black lines accenting each "stair."
Painterly Effects
Tissu simultané no. 46, a bold geometric design of blue, yellow, and black lines on a white ground, has the hallmark characteristics of Sonia Delaunay’s textiles from the 1920s: contrasting colors with abstract, geometric, or rounded patterns that are block-printed on cotton or silk fabric. In fact, she often printed the same pattern and colorway...
Sonia Delaunay and “The New Woman”
Dr. Sherry Buckberrough, Delaunay scholar and author of Sonia Delaunay: A Retrospective, will discuss Sonia Delaunay as a modern fashion and textile designer and a radical force in shaping the image of the Parisian “New Woman” of the 1920s. Buckberrough will illuminate how her designs emphatically deployed the look of modernity across two hemispheres.”
Color Moves the Design Library
Art et Decoration, November 1926 Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, which opened March 18, brings over 300 examples of the artist’s fashion and textile designs to our galleries. Here are a few fun things that were not included, but can all be found in Smithsonian’s National Design Library, housed here at Cooper-Hewitt....
Cooper-Hewitt: Sonia Delaunay – A Conversation Among Friends
Petra Timmer, design scholar and Delaunay expert, will moderate a discussion between Matteo de Monti and Elaine Lustig Cohen, as they recount their personal experiences with Sonia Delaunay and offer unique insight into the life and work of this iconic artist and designer. Matteo de Monti is the grandson of the director of Metz and...
Pattern Inspiration: Sonia Delaunay and Fashion
Textile design #253 from Sonia Delaunay, 1928-30. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper. Private collection © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623 Photo: © private collection As New York Fashion Week Fall 2011 draws to a close, I wanted to compare some beautiful textile patterns that fashion designers this past year have shown...