Originally made by Bielefelder in 1964, this double deck set of the 2nd edition of Sonia Delaunay’s stunning “Simultanė” cards was printed by ASS in 1980. In my opinion these cards – in either edition – area as fine as any set of “art deck” cards of the 20th century.
Gunther Anderson has this to say at his website, referring to this 2nd edition:
“Sonia Delaunay died in 1979, just as she was directing the completion of this edition of her deck of cards. Her long life proved, ultimately, as joyous as her art, as vibrant in its color as it was revolutionary in its composition. Born Sarah Stern, she lived most of her life with neither of the names she had been given, taking her uncle's surname, Terk, and the name Sofia, or its Russian form Sonia, when he adopted her. As Sonia Terk, in Paris at the emergence of cubism and abstract painting, she made perhaps her greatest paintings, exploring the inherent emotion and power of colors alone, rather than shapes and scenes. Along with her second husband Robert Delaunay, Sonia stood at the vanguard of pure abstraction, jettisoning subject altogether in favor of color and form.
“But as a pure painter, her career was not long. After marrying first Wilhelm Uhde, and then Robert Delaunay, she found herself much more interested in color than she was in pigment. She moved quickly into other areas in which she could explore the actions of colors, dabbling in embroideries first, and then full clothing design. Silk and linen became her canvas, and then the whole world. In the glorious two decades from 1914 to 1934, she helped free the world from rigid form in fashion and design, and unleashed her wild colors and contrasts upon everything from evening dresses to cutlery, even creating the first neon sculpture. Her wild hues found support from the Surrealists and Dadaists of Paris to the Futurists of Milan, and she collaborated with people from Coco Chanel to Sergei Diaghilev. And as she continued to paint, she continued to explore a world unconquered by art, finding every place that art could be, and finding that art could be every place. Her impact on the world of art, fashion and design cannot be easily overstated.
“In Paris, she rubbed elbows with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Rousseau, and Robert Delaunay, with whom she had a passionate affair, and would eventually marry. Delaunay himself was instrumental in breaking the bounds of subject in painting, and was one of the true, great pioneers of abstraction. Sonia felt the emotion and the energy within color, and strove to investigate what colors meant in and of themselves, and how they reacted to each other. Taking her inspiration from the works of Matisse and Gauguin, even as she exhibited in the same halls as they, she took color for itself, building that emotion into her images, subjugating the subject further and further beneath the feelings until in her art, too, there was no subject at all.
“Robert Delaunay told Sonia of a book he'd read, the bible of the pointillists, Michel-Eugene Chevreuil's On the Laws of Simultaneous Color Contrasts, written in 1839, which described how colors inform each other, and what juxtaposing them did to the individual colors. And here Sonia found the word which described everything she was doing with color and form, everything her art meant to her. Simultaneity, or in french, simultané. It would become for her much more than contrasting colors. Simultané was unifying the disparate and deconstructing the singular, seeing something as both many things and one thing, simultaneously. In color and in form, simultané was very much her life's work.
“Simultané can be well seen in this deck of cards, where the colors form the unified contrasts she strove for, never blending colors, but always standing them up against each other, breaking them apart, splitting them with carefully primitive, torn lines of white, searching for all that color means to itself, and to the beholders. And the geometries of the cards, the shapes of the objects, all derive from her exploration of fashion and form, blending external shape with internal shape.
“This deck was originally conceived of in 1939, and a small number of drawings were executed to study the concept. Any plans for rendering it, if they existed at all, were interrupted by war, and the full deck, subtly different in design, didn't see the light of day until 1960, when the University of Bielefeld, one of the first to seriously recognize her contributions to modern art, commissioned her to complete the deck. That she did, and these images are the result. In 1979, the deck was to be published to the world by the Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkartenfabrik (A & S Playing Card Factory), and Delaunay was called in to supervise its production. She died overseeing its final details.”
As noted, the set here listed is a double deck set. Each deck has 52 suited cards, plus 3 Jokers, and the cards are accompanied by a booklet in English, German and French, describing the artist and the cards. The cards are slightly large bridge size, measuring 91mm x 59mm, and come in the original box.
One deck is mint and sealed; the other deck is without the wrapper, but in mint condition. The box is in excellent condition.
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