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From Cubism to Non-Objective Art: Sonia and Robert Delaunay's Exchange with Russian Artists

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Willaman Baltaxe, Cinthia 


This dissertation examines the early history and development of Cubism, Orphism and Non-Objective art through the artistic exchange between Sonia and Robert Delaunay and Russian avant-garde artists. Previous scholars have studied the work of the Delaunays primarily within the context of isolated movements and geographical confines. This approach has prevented us from fully grasping the ways in which the Delaunays’ work influenced the wider, international avant-garde phenomenon. My methodology is the first to reconsider the Delaunays’ pivotal shift from Cubism to Non-Objective art, and how this influenced other artists, resituating them within the transnational history of the avant-garde in the early twentieth century. By analysing published and archival sources, international exhibitions and their critical reception, and the exchange of ideas between Russia and Europe, this project presents an innovative understanding of how pre-war artists experimented with Non-Objective art. Taken together, my research advances scholarship on pre-1914 avant-gardism, the Russian avant-garde, Non-Objective art, and Sonia and Robert Delaunay, broadening discussions of influence and revealing new nuances of crucial developments in numerous artists’ approaches to visual art. This dissertation provides a much needed study of the Delaunays’ dialogue with Russian artists, who were instrumental in the development of abstract art and who marked a significant contribution to international artistic discourse. Moreover, it challenges the established narrative that Robert alone was the primary stimulus for Russian artists. Instead, by shifting the focus to a broader pan-European and Russian perspective, my work sheds new light on the involvement of Sonia, as well as Robert, in these changes.





Blakesley, Rosalind P.


Orphism, Non-Objective Art, Cubism, Russian Avant-Garde, Delaunay


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge