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Collection of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Sonia Delaunay

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Sonia Delaunay (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. Showing artistic talent in her youth, she attended an art academy in Germany and later went to Paris where she ultimately met her husband, Robert Delaunay, also a painter. Together they developed the theory of Simultaneity, which is the sensation of movement when placing contrasting colors side by side, and is very much expressed in their paintings as well as in the textiles that Sonia Delaunay designed in the 1920s.