The unfinished text about Sonia Delaunay

Judging by the ‘Last Opened’ details, I wrote these notes in May this year at around ten in the evening. That day, I had seen the Sonia Delaunay retrospective in a stolen lunch break whilst undertaking some freelance work at Tate Modern. I know that at the time I had felt an impetus to write about the exhibition, filled with archival costume and theatre props, and its proximity to the Musee de la Dance programme taking place that weekend. I wrote a series of half-sentences, notes and lists of important works hastily on my phone and typed these up with diligence, at home that evening. That evening however was to be the last time I looked at them as they quickly became buried in my computer in a forest of files and virtual sticky notes.” 

by Bryony White


Je Suis En Route, Sonia Delaunay


Outside Sonia Delaunay’s retrospective at Tate Modern, in the cavernous belly of the turbine hall, a large glitter ball will be suspended from the ceiling. It wavers in mid-air, Av Technicians and Engineers, like a Laurel and Hardy sketch, maniacally gesturing “this way” or “to the left”.


Perhaps a nod to Oleg Kulick’s Armadillo as part of Live Culture in 2003

Musee de la Dance is set to begin for a weekend in May. Two floors above this to-ing and fro-ing of props and set, sits

[filled with costumes]

Sonia Delaunay’s retrospective draws and gives motion, through and in her own works. Works such as Syncopated Rhythm give rhythm to the costumes that once gave dynamism and movement

The retrospective stills and de-stills itself.

Heading toward abstraction and

the real-life subject depiction of works like Yellow Nude, Prose on the Trans-Siberian Railway compacts an expression of colour through poetry and vice versa.


Gaining dynamism,

Electric prisms 1913-4 electric streetlights


This abstraction is further twisted and soon becomes the abstraction of tangoing dancers. For Delauney, Tango was the hallmark of modernity in the early 20th century in Paris, and she would spend evenings of almost anthropological study, capturing the twist in sinew and flick of a hip of these dancers. Bal Bullier,


And outside, 20 Dancers for the XX Century


Ballet ruses

Flashing up of costume design

Meditation on empty archive of costumes and actual dance taking place downstairs

Costume for amoun 1918 designs


Sonia Delauney seated wearing her embroided coats bb

Fashion model with mirror, 1926

Dress designs for le petit Parisian 1926

Dress poems, poems in motion words and colours as expressive elements

In motion, movement

Exhibition as stilling movement?

The still vs movement

Costumes for the bal des pages 1924

Tristan Tzara de nos oiseaux

Her paintings (rhythm colour eg) put in to motion all that is still in the photographs archives etc displayed in the exhibition coloured rhythm

Palais de l’air

Syncopated rhythm, 1967

Later years re-expressing archiving herself, using previous works

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