A New Reality: Work by Sonia Delaunay Enters Collection

Rythme Couleur (1961) is the first work by Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), a seminal figure in 20th century modernism, to enter The Phillips Collection. The gouache on paper is a gift from Lillianne Litton, a longtime supporter and friend of the Phillips. Delaunay and her husband Robert (1885-1941) invented a variation of cubism (called “orphism”) around 1911-12 based on simultaneous color contrasts and geometric patterns. Sonia dedicated her art to the fundamental idea that abstraction is a new reality that need not imitate the existing world. With its emphasis on geometry, color, and light, this 1961 gouache captures the essentials of her style. An intuitive artist for whom color was primary and rhythm the structural core of her compositions, Delaunay’s painting fits seamlessly with other works in the collection that emphasize similar aesthetic qualities, especially works by Kenneth Noland, Alma Thomas, and Leo Villareal.