The Russian-born artist Sonia Delaunay, who with her husband, Robert Delaunay, was a leading light of the Cubist splinter group Orphism, branched out after the First World War into a distinctive career of her own. Between 1920 and 1930, a decade full of activity and success, she produced some of the most striking and original fabric designs of modern times. She was the inventor of abstract design for fabrics, and her materials—brightly colored and filled with geometric patterns—were the rage among fashionable circles in the Art Deco era. Delaunay made imaginative waistcoats for Tristan Tzara, Louis Aragon, Rene Crevel, and other Surrealist poets. She dressed Gloria Swanson and various French film stars, the unconventional socialite Nancy Cunard, and the wife of the Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer. She also designed interiors in collaboration with the Paris architect Mallet-Stevens and created costumes for the early films of Marcel L’Herbier. Her fabrics were sold by Liberty’s in London and many of the most exclusive department stores in New York. Jean Cocteau and Blaise Cendrars wrote about her fashion designs, and her decorative scarves are known to have had an influence on the work of Paul Klee. Jacques Damase, the French publisher and art historian, is intimately familiar with all of Delaunay’s original designs and fabric samples. In many cases both the design and the sample still exist, and this is the first time most of them have been photographed. Damase has written an appreciation of Delaunay, and has also assembled a representative selection of writings by her contemporary admirers and critics. The result is a definitive record of this unusually talented artist’s contribution to commercial design. These dazzling, exciting designs are artworks in themselves; the fact that they had a practical purpose makes them even more admirable.
Jacques Damase was a French publisher and art historian who published the work of Jean Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Charlie Chaplin, among others. Damase also edited the review Labyrinthe and wrote books on the works of Jacques Callot, Braque, Chagall, and Picasso.