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Born in a Shtetl

An Essay on Sonia Delaunay and her Jewishness

Tom Sandqvist

Sonia Delaunay is one of the most important artists of the early twentieth century, whose contribution to European Modernism was fundamental, if not always fully acknowledged in its own right. She is known for translating her experiments via painting into the realm of fashion, interior design and crafts and, thus, consciously transcending the boundaries between fine and applied art. The focus within mainstream art history has been her relationship with her husband Robert Delaunay. Tom Sandqvist shifts this focus on her Jewish roots and sheds a light on the influence of growing up in the typical Eastern European shtetl, which has not attracted any special attention in the analysis of Delaunay’s art. Tom Sandqvist reflects on the impact of Judaism on Sonia Delaunay’s œuvre, with a special focus on her early contributions to Simultanism and Orphism within the interwar Parisian Avant-Garde.

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Contents

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Introduction

The Dadaist Inspired by Sonia Delaunay

In the Shtetl, in the Vast Crowd of Russia, and on the Karelian Isthmus

On Her Dress She Has a Body

From Hradyzk To the Capital of the Empire

The Jewish Elite Close To the Emperor

The Jewish Origin

First Karlsruhe, Then Paris

Wilhelm Uhde and Robert Delaunay

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