Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Supplementary research to Assignment 5 in response to Tutor report – Sonia Delaunay

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Sonia Delaunay

I’m looking at Sonia Delaunay’s work in relation to patchwork.

I wasn’t fortunate enough to visit the recent exhibition at the Tate but the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris of their exhibition Sonia Delaunay – Les couleurs de l’abstraction, have a virtual tour (

I read various reviews of the exhibition at the Tate which are listed below looking for details of how patchwork was significant in her change of direction, but particularly enjoyed Freire Barnes’ article in Time Out, which included the following paragraph:

“The transition from representational expression to abstraction happens quite suddenly. Paintings of overlaid discs of various hues capture the vibrancy of Paris, lit by electric light. The colours clash and pop against each other with dizzying effect. Yet it’s Delaunay’s interpretation of Simultanism – a synchronised use of contrasting colours and shapes created with her painter husband Robert – into patchwork pieces ranging from a cradle cover to an evening dress that is most impactful.”

Both the bedcover made in 1911 and the evening dress (included in the Pinterest  board above) are rich in colour and texture.   Both include triangular pieces which successfully lead the eye around the piece.  There is a range of tones in the colour used, the lighter hues contrasting well with the dark.  The dress appears to include black velvet which is a really striking contrast to the other colours and fabrics.  Its difficult to see from the photograph but shinier silks also appear to be included, the delicate creasing of the finer fabrics also in contrast to the velvet.  The bodice has a central seam and elements of symmetry but overall the garment is asymmetric.  The dress is a real statement and must have been really striking in its time, although I’m not sure I like it. I don’t like some of the colours, but appreciate I cannot tell their true nature from pictures on the computer, I’m not keen on black, gold, bottle green or fawn.  However, I can imagine that on Sonia Delaunay’s slender form, it was a sight to behold.

The ‘Blanket’ made in 1911 of appliqued fabric measuring approx 43 x 32″ is made of similar colours to the dress, but I like it more. I think there is more contrast in tone, it feels livelier, more energetic, the darker colours are less dominant. I like the balance of colour and slightly haphazard look of the piecing.


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