Chromatic Vanguard

Sonia Delaunay in Madrid


It can hardly be said that Robert and Sonia Delaunay are unknown in Spain. Their work has been the theme of exhibitions here since the very first one organized by the Juan March Foundation, in Madrid, in 1982. What distinguishes the current show at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum from exhibitions in the past is that the focus is on Sonia, one of numerous female artists who have been overshadowed by their spouses.

Presenting the work of Sonia Delaunay, solo, is not one of those retroactive acts of retribution that are carried out with an eye to upholding women’s rights. It is simply fair, as Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) was genuinely a total artist. Painting, stage design, decoration, advertising, fashion: nothing lay outside her field of interest. This becomes clear as one goes through the two hundred objects on display in ‘Sonia Delaunay: Art, Design, Fashion,’ visitable in Madrid until 5 October.

It is also most fitting that this excellent solo exhibition should be presented in Madrid, given the intense relationship that the artist had with the city, where she lived for a time both before and after World War I, and where she took to flamenco, was drawn to El Greco, rubbed elbows with artists of the popular, folk avant-garde, produced paintings with powerful colors, and even made herself a niche as a dressmaker, sewing unique attires that had a wide following among her neighbors in the Salamanca neighborhood. It’s the extraordinary story of an avant-garde artist who sought to transform everyday life. Don’t miss it.

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