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ASS "Simultané" Playing Cards, Sonia Delaunay Designs, c.1980
Beautiful set of the justly celebrated "Simultané" playing cards printed by ASS c.1980, featuring the brilliant designs of Russian-born, Paris-informed artist Sonia Delaunay. This is the second edition of these cards, the first having been printed by Bielefelder c.1964.
The World of Playing Cards website has this to say about the artist and the deck:
"Sonia Delaunay was born in Russia in 1885. Her art was one of the first expressions of abstract painting, and she influenced Paul Klee and preceded Mondrian and Matisse. Her 'Simultané' playing cards were completed in 1964. The court cards were conceived to express the essential nature of the figure represented rather than its meaning, traditionally conveyed by ornaments, emblems and symbols. Thus the figure of the king expresses virility by means of large, static rhomboidal forms; the femininity of the queen is characterised by rounded, mobile forms; the jack is distinguished by its restlessness, playful agility and boyishness. The headgear is the only traditional emblem maintained, deliberately so, for the pack of cards is an object intended for use, and not simply to satisfy the eye. As for the two jokers, Sonia Delaunay used as a basic design, but in a more abstract fashion, her Jazz compositions from 1952.
"The back design is a variation on the traditional harlequin pattern; there are two versions, one in red and blue and the other in green and blue. The figures of the king, queen and jack are identical in each of the four suits of the pack. To facilitate the use of the cards, the artist developed a supplementary system of colours; the same colours are used for the twelve cards, but each suit has a different dominant colour: blue for clubs, green for spades, red for hearts and yellow for diamonds. There is nothing cold or calculating about these 'simultaneous' cards. Sonia Delaunay disciplined her vitality to create a seemingly straight-forward composition of forms and colours; nonetheless their essential lyricism shows through. A second edition was published in 1980."
The name of the deck, "Simultané," is derived from the title to a book introduced to Sonia by husband Robert Delaunay. From Gunther Anderson's website:
"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."
Whatever the artistic intent, these cards are extremely striking. The deck has 52 cards, plus 3 Jokers. The cards are slightly large and wide bridge size, measuring 91mm x 60mm. The cards came to me in a plastic box that is not original, and will travel to the buyer in the same box.
The cards are in "as new" condition. The box does its job of protecting the cards, but is well used and has issues. The cards are priced as if they had no box.
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