If you love color and geometry (and who doesn't?), then Sonia Delaunay is as good as it gets, as far as textile designers go. I first learned about her years ago in an undergraduate art history class, and then primarily through her fine art paintings. She and her artist husband Robert Delaunay cofounded the avant-garde art movement known as "Orphism" (a version of Cubism). Years later (when I became a textile-o-phile) I was blown away by her work as a textile designer and continue to this day to be inspired by her visionary designs, the breadth of her talent, and the sheer variety of forms her art and design took.
Born in the Ukraine, she came to Paris in 1905 via St Petersburg. There she met her husband and artistic collaborator Robert Delaunay, of whom she wrote, “In Robert I found a poet—a poet who wrote not with words but with colors.”
Yet before she became an acclaimed painter and designer, in 1911 she made a handmade quilt for her newborn son. It was patched together from colorful pieces of fabric, and was her first geometric color experiment. She wrote:
"About 1911 I had the idea of making for my son, who had just been born, a blanket composed of bits of fabric like those I had seen in the houses of Ukrainian peasants. When it was finished, the arrangement of the pieces of material seemed to me to evoke cubist conceptions and we then tried to apply the same process to other objects and paintings."
Color and geometric shape became her muse—and inhabited her paintings, textile designs, stage set designs, costumes, furniture and clothing for the next 70 years, until her death.
Vive la Sonia!