Sonia Delaunay saved my jumper. Having seen the retrospective at Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago, I was mid-decluttering today when in a ‘What would Sonia do?’ moment, the orange and navy hounds tooth sweater jettisoned onto the charity pile, earlier, bounced its way back into my moth-proof box. More colour and pattern required. Ditch the sloppy grey sweater instead.

Sonia Delaunay with her textile designs
Sonia Delaunay with her textile designs

Seems I’m not the only one inspired by the Russian-born artist’s work; there’s a patchwork cover in the exhibition (made by Delaunay for her son when he was a few months old) that put me in mind of Tracey Emin’s quilts, and a couple of monochrome graphic prints that were pure Op-Art-era Bridget Riley. The room dedicated to fashion and textiles is fantastic. Sketches, scrolling fabrics and videos, as well as a fine selection of clothes, document the successful fashion business started by Delaunay in 1917. Some of the pieces are totally timeless, like this geometric coat designed for Gloria Swanson :

Sonia Delaunay, Gloria Swanson coat

sonia delaunay shoes
And these dancing shoes. Photo: Time Out


1927 photo via WGSN
1927 photo via WGSN

Whenever I see photos of 1920s swimwear, I try to imagine swimming in a heavy woollen one-piece…

Sonia Delaunay knitted bathing suit-105

Thank heavens for Speedo. The EY: Sonia Delaunay exhibition at the Tate is lovely – and it’s on until 9 August 2015.

PS Quick housekeeping update: the initial problems with my email sign up have been resolved now. All should be fine.

11 thoughts on “Sonia Delaunay at the Tate

  1. Interesting about Sonia Delaunay and this exhibit. The Speedo legacy is at best mixed as generations of Eastern Euro men seem to think frolicking at the beach in a thong while guzzling potato vodka is sexy.

  2. It’s a lovely exhibition, I’m intending to get the most out of my Tate membership card by going several times and spending some focussed time on particular things. Well worth the trip if like me you’re outside London!

  3. GSL – That’s Not Sexy. And has just reminded me of a visit to an open-air French swimming pool with Mr TNMA. Swim shorts were not allowed and we had to go and find him a pair of Budgie Smugglers!

    Agree, Maureen, It is lovely and well worth a second visit.

    Sarah – Agree, I’d wear the Gloria Swanson coat today.

  4. We’re there next month all the way from Australia. We were just discussing what was to be on our must-see list. Thankyou. This looks fabulous. Love the Tate. As for woollen swimsuits, well, you’d just die here in the Tropics! We did have crocheted bikinis in the seventies though and they had a bit of a resurgence here a year or two ago. They were as jolly impractical as ever. Saggy bottoms and bosoms all round. The bikinis I mean, not the girls wearing them. Clearly you were not meant to swim in knitted and crocheted swimwear!

  5. This looks great, Alison…I’ll definitely be heading off to the Tate Modern soon 🙂
    I love the coat; I’d wear that now!
    Have a lovely week 🙂

  6. I could stare at that painting in your first photograph for hours. I love the juxtaposition of bright and sludgy colours, and I also want all three of the dresses in it!

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