After a fantastic visit to the Richard Diebenkorn exhibition at the RA I continued my day in London with a visit to the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at Tate Modern. My visit, late afternoon, allowed me plenty of time and space to immerse myself in her multidisciplinary practice. Investing in the exhibition book paid dividends as it contains an essay by the curator of the exhibition Juliet Bingham In focus: picturing Sonia Delaunay.
The essay draws out the changes in Delaunay’s intentions and the control she exacted over her own image. Early photographs of her wearing costumes and later her own clothing designs were according to Bingham “meticulously composed and staged to present a complete environment of juxtaposing patterns”(1). An image of Delaunay, with two friends in Robert Delaunay’s studio, shows her situated away from the design process, emphasising instead design outcomes. Later, after the death of her husband, her focused ambitions to have his work shown, the promotion of abstraction and spending more time on her own painting practice Delaunay’s “shift in focus within her own practice was mirrored in her photographic portraits….she was always photographed with her paintings, never staged photographs with her textiles as in the 1920’s” (2). In this way the photograph operates as a promotional tool, but moreover declares her firm intention that she is in fact a painter first and foremost.
1. Juliet Bingham in focus: picturing Sonia Delaunay London, Tate Publishing, 2015 p. 255
2. ibid p. 257