Simultaneous Contrasts, by Sonia Delaunay, hails from the De Abreu collection, like her husband Robert’s Woman with a Parasol. It belongs to a set of works with the same title in which the painter shifts away from the Cubist and Futurist disintegration of form and admirably synthesises the arrangement of “windows” and the rhythm of the “circular forms” invented by Robert, achieving an abstract purity in which colour is both form and content. What interests Sonia and Robert about colour is its “movement” as the generator of the new space in modern painting. To achieve this movement, Sonia uses both complementary colours and contrasts of clashing colours, such as red and blue.
The signature, which is positioned as if on a vertical canvas, has given rise to a certain amount of confusion in the past as to how the painting should be hung, but a comparison with other similar works confirms that the correct position is horizontal. Christopher Green relates this confusion to Sonia’s foray into design during her more than two-year break from painting following her marriage and the birth of the couple’s son Charles in 1911. Her designs for certain decorative items such as bedspreads, pillows and tablecloths had no precise direction and undoubtedly influenced her later paintings.