On Sonia Delaunay
”She didn’t bring the canvas; she’s wearing it.”
Designer Henrik Vibskov shares his thoughts on the pioneering artist Sonia Delaunay. Read more …
“She designs for a very modern woman who is part of her time or rather at the forefront of it,” says Henrik Vibskov and goes on: “She stages herself like a performance while wearing her work of art. She didn’t bring the canvas; she’s wearing it.” To him, Sonia Delaunay’s use of art as clothing is eye-catching: “It’s a bizarre, performative promotion of her things.”
Henrik Vibskov also points out the irregular patterns and the imperfect strokes of colour on Delaunay’s textiles: “The colors are smudged, so there are no perfect lines. The colors melt together.” Compared to the art deco scene that happened around the same time, “she is messing around with very incorrect geometrical patterns.”
Sonia Delaunay didn’t only make paintings. There was almost no limit to how or with what she expressed herself: “She painted cars and made teacups and ceramics and clothing. Different areas that melted together. Perhaps it was deliberate,” Henrik Vibskov wonders. Though the medium would differ, he points out the silver lining that is represented in all of Delaunay’s work: “What she always incorporates is her science of colors. The more she can spread them out, the better.”
Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979) was born into a Jewish family in Odesa, Russia (now Ukraine), as Sara Élievna Stern. Her parents gave her up to adopt her mother’s well-off brother, Henri Terk, in St. Petersburg. She spent her childhood immersed in art and art books, took French, German, and English lessons, and went on European vacations with her family. At age 18, she moved to Karlsruhe, Germany, to attend art school. A few years later, she went to Paris to continue her education surrounded by the latest trends in the world centre of modern art. Delaunay briefly explored figurative painting, but above all, she cultivated colour in abstract compositions, in painting and design, from 1911 and up to her death in 1979, at age 94.
In 1910, Sonia Terk married Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), a painter her age. The two artists worked closely together to exchange artistic ideas until Robert’s untimely death in 1941. Sonia and Robert Delaunay had a vast network across the European and Russian art scenes. Their home in Paris was a meeting place for avant-garde artists and writers before and after World War I. Sonia and Robert worked closely to develop a visual vocabulary based on rhythmic compositions of coloured planes – a colourful take on Cubism that their friend, the influential poet Guillaume Apollinaire, dubbed Orphism. Sonia Delaunay preferred the term Simultané, which became a trademark and brand for her design and fashion work. Dynamic colour interaction was foundational to all of Sonia Delaunay’s work. Moreover, she was concerned with the interaction between different art forms, especially between the experimental poetry and the abstract vocabulary of her day.
Sonia Delaunay was among the pioneers in developing and disseminating abstract art in the 1910s. She did not work with paint only but swung freely between isms and roles across the boundary between “art” and “craft”, both as an avant-gardist and an entrepreneur and was a forerunner of contemporary experimental collaborations in art and design. Linking abstract art and fashion, she helped compose the modern woman of the 1920s while embodying one herself in her lifelong artistic project to connect the new abstract vocabulary with vibrant modern life. For too long, her diverse practice excluded her from the modernist canon, primarily focused on developing abstract painting and the differences between the isms, whilst Delaunay had a foot in many camps.
Henrik Vibskov (b. 1979) is a Danish designer and artist. As a designer, he has produced over 40 clothing collections since graduating from Central St. Matins in 2001. Since January 2003, he has been a Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine member. He is one of the few Scandinavian designers on the official show schedule of the Paris Fashion Week. Since the beginning of his career, Henrik has been invited to and participated in festivals, contests, and talks such as Artist Talk at London Design Week in 2017, Exhibition design and curating of Mindcraft17, Danish Pavilion at Salone del Mobile Milan in 2017, Art Basel Miami, One Week Workshop at Domaine Boisbuchet, France 2016. He has also produced several large-scale solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, including the TEMPO at Stockholm Stadsteater, Sweden, Daelim Museum, Seoul, South Korea, his “Neck Plus Ultra” exhibition, which was shown at Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Gammel Strand in Copenhagen, an extensive retrospective of his work at Designmuseum Helsinki in Finland, and most recently the Solo Exhibition in Sophienholm, Copenhagen. Henrik Vibskov is currently Professor at DSKD and has frequently given lectures and been a jury member at institutions such as Central Saint Martins in London, the IED in Madrid and the Antwerp Royal Acadamy of Fine Art, amongst others.
Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen interviewed Henrik Vibskov at his studio in Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2022.
Camera: Simon Wehye
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
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