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Simultaneous colours

colori simultanei

Sonia Delaunay artistic search

«Art overcomes the collapsing limits given by time, showing us the content of future.» (Vasilij Kandinskij, Point, line, plane)

Abstract art, shapes, colours

Between 1923 and 1934 Sonia Delaunay began a series of works in the form of chromatic and morphological permutations.Her creative energy fulfills the condition of improvisation and receives imagination spirit.

It deals not with fabric design, rather with a search on colours.

Sonia says: "In 1923 a Lyon fabric house contacted me for some designs on textiles. I realised 50 drawings wiht pure colours and rhythmic geometric shapes. For me they were and still are colours ranges, after all the foundation of the essential concept of our painting. (…) After concluding this search stage, which was not theoretical but just based on my personal sensitiveness, I gained a freedom of expression which can be found in my latest works, especially in my gouaches, which are mood expressions, poems.”

colori simultanei


In a text published after 1930, Robert Delaunay explains that colour, result of light (as written by Apollinaire), it is the foundation of painters material means, and it is his / her language. Every painter works therefore with the aid of physical elements, that he / she has to master through the will.

Colours are measurable, distributed on the painting plane. They establish among themselves measures that recreate in the eye of the viewer, not just on the plane of the painting. what is commonly called optical mixing.

Consequently, the measurable object called painting, a plane with two or more dimensions simultaneously readable through vision ray, it becomes a multiple dimensions object, in which they group, resisting or neutralizing each other, being that colour is a measure in vibration according with given intensity, according to respective closeness and surface, and in its relation with all the other colours.”

n another text dated 1924, Robert Delaunay states the principle of a representation based on perceivable contrasts, a rhytmic and responsive language.

"Matter in turn influences through its quality. The need for the painter to take this into account, that is knowing what causes a given material mixed with pigment of a same colour.. according to greater or lesser depth or brightness"... This material quality it is the foundation of all sculptural activities, of all theoretical concepts - since with the aid of merely material elements it is possible to balance human attempts: architecture, fashion, decor, etc. Aesthetics has its roots in the different ways it applies them, the craft is foundamental." (R. Delaunay)

Fabric designs

Since 1931 Sonia will call all she intended for fabrics as "fabric designs". Chosen motifs are simple at the beginning and become complex in the practical development: squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, lozenges and herringbone patterns.

In several photographs some mannequins wear dresses realised with fabrics designed by Sonia Delaunay: it deals with bathing suits, overcoats, robes. While in some of them the design is intended as a whole and communicates a global visive ensemble, in other pieces the function is merely decorative, underlining just some details of the garment.

Other photos depict mannequins draped with her fabrics, photographed among and on a background made of other fabrics designed by her.

In her notes books, sketches in monochrome or in colours include details of previous gouaches: one hem, a sleeve edge, the decoration on a blouse. Several gouaches are variants of a concept already developed. In any case, her elaboration is always related to her pictorial search.

Atelier Simultané (1923-1934)

"Sonia Delaunay. Robes, manteau, écharpes, sacs, tapis, tissus simultanés." Atelier Simultané, set in 1925, was a success. However Sonia refused to give her house an industrial profile, since she did not agree on the idea of a planned production: Sonia creates, invents and produces theatre costumes or non-standard dresses for a niche.

Three-dimensional productions (fabrics, dresses, environments) does never impact Sonia painting activity, so much so that neither her gouaches nor her drawings contain referrals to measurements or scale issues, if and how a given gouache will be reproduced, or if it will constitute a placed motif or a repeating pattern. The purpose of the gouache does not modify the artist creativity.

When painted, her dresses construct and structure themselves, composing and decomposing the bodies in the picture with as many fabric fragments assembled. They are paintings. The body is flat and the only movement possible - as in the famous Danseuse, of which gouache Tango dated 1923 is one of the preparatory projects, takes place on the plane.

Looking at her notes, when Sonia creates artworks that sometime become matrix for textiles, she does not care about the body, its volume or what surrounds it: she just experiments. And when she sketches a dress she rarely conceives it outside of an environment. The project of dress / costume is structured on the page starting with a colour elaboration, which often is beyond the represented dress, but it is necessarily perceived simultaneously with it.

However, it's Mondrian explanation that better describes Sonia artwork. He says that according to her, "the fabric is simultaneous", it follows the contours of the body only when draped, that is to say when it is no longer a dress; the simultaneous dress instead, not accompanying the body puts it at a distance and shapes it reconstructing it.


G. Apollinaire, Calligrammes (1918), Les Fenêtres

S. Delaunay, L’Influences de la peinture sur le mode (1927)

(Highlight image by Pexels from Pixabay)

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