Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Composition with Semicircles

Geometry and Color: Sonia Delaunay and Bellingham Public School Students

Virtual Exhibit; Ongoing

Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Composition with Semicircles

Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Composition with Semicircles, 1970; Color aquatint; 28 x 22 in. Edition 9/125. Collection of the Whatcom Museum, Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.

As part of their distance learning materials, local students were asked to make artwork in the style of influential, Paris-based artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay. While the Delaunays’ works have been displayed in exhibitions at museums around the world, it turns out that Sonia Delaunay’s work can be found closer to home.

The Whatcom Museum holds a Sonia Delaunay print entitled Abstract Composition with Semicircles in its permanent collection. May is Youth Art Month for Bellingham Public Schools and (virtual) Children’s Art Walk.

In the spirit of celebrating youth art, we are pleased to virtually display this piece in conjunction with the art of local students inspired by the Delaunays’ work, and are thrilled to see how their art is influencing young artists today!

Sonia (Terk) Delaunay (1885-1979), born Sara Stern in Ukraine, was a Paris-based artist who worked alongside her French husband Robert Delaunay (1885-1941). As a couple, they explored color theory and pioneered the modernist art movement Orphism. The Delaunays were central figures in Paris’’’s early twentieth century avant-garde circles, and they influenced the work of many of their artist-friends, including colorists Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

Black and white photo of Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay wearing Casa Sonia creations, Madrid, c.1918-20. Public Domain. Created: circa 1918.

Melding aspects of Cubism and Fauvism, the Delaunays’ abstract Orphist works are characterized by interconnected blocks of vibrant color combinations, and consist primarily of rhythmically composed geometric forms.

While they both painted, Sonia also designed textiles, clothing, furniture, and print illustrations, all in her characteristic orphic style. After Robert’s death, Sonia expanded her practice to include etching while continuing to paint and design clothing, making her a foundational influence in modern fashion.

The work in the Whatcom Museum’s permanent collection was created sometime between the late 1960s and early 1970s, and illustrates how committed Delaunay was to her signature style. In 1964, she became the only woman to have an exhibition held at the Louvre while still living.

More recently, in 2015 the Tate Modern celebrated Sonia Delaunay with a comprehensive retrospective of her work.

Collection Citation (detail): Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Composition with Semicircles, 1970; Color aquatint; 28 x 22 in. Edition 9/125. Collection of the Whatcom Museum, Gift of George and Pearl Yewell.