Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Sonia and Robert Delaunay: Correspondence

After the great retrospective of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso at the Grand Palais, the artist is once again being featured in an exhibition in Paris.
03 apr 2024

The close artistic relationship between Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and the couple Sonia and Robert Delaunay, three great figures of European modernism, is the central theme of the exhibition that can be visited in Paris at the Centre Pompidou until 9th September.

Curated by Helena de Freitas (CAM – Gulbenkian Centre for Modern Art) and Angela Lampe and Sophie Goetzmann (Centre Pompidou), the exhibition presents 30 works by the three artists from the collections of both institutions.

The fruitful relationship between the artists began in 1912, when Sonia and Robert Delaunay were surprised at their home in Paris by the young Amadeo, who knocked on their door and introduced himself: “I am the Portuguese painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso”. This encounter was the beginning of a long relationship of artistic collaboration, which grew over time and across geographies.

The bond between Amadeo and the Delaunays was strengthened between 1915 and 1917 when the couple, refugees from the Great War, settled in Vila do Conde, when Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and other members of the so-called Portuguese Futurist group were in Portugal.

This geographical coincidence gave rise to many projects that, in many ways, extended the simultaneous movement developed by the Delaunay couple with the goal of launching travelling exhibitions in Europe (expositions mouvantes). These were the first artistic actions of resistance to the centrality of Paris and a test to find other ways of creating and disseminating plastic experiences using light and colour, in the context of the avant-garde breakthroughs of the early 20th century.

In its collection, the Centre Pompidou has works by Sonia and Robert Delaunay that were donated by Sonia and her son Charles in 1964, and it also owns a painting by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, entitled Cavaliers, from 1913, which will be in exhibition. In addition to this work, the Centre Pompidou will also be presenting 11 canvases by Sonia and Robert Delaunay. The CAM is travelling to Paris with 17 works by Amadeo and one by Robert Delaunay.

In the catalogue of the exhibition there is a reproduction of the correspondence between the artists, which has been translated into Portuguese for the first time. The correspondence reflects the contingencies of the war and some setbacks brought about by fate, but also Amadeo’s absolute resistance to accepting a group and school ethos. A reading of this correspondence, in dialogue with the works on display, opens up new interpretative possibilities, especially about the period when Sonia and Robert lived in Vila do Conde.

The catalogue also examines this unique trilateral relationship, through a conversation between Helena de Freitas and Angela Lampe on the strategic sense and opportunity of the format of this exhibition; an essay by CAM curator Ana Vasconcelos, who returns to this theme after the success of the exhibition O Círculo Delaunay (CAM, 2015); an essay by researcher Marta Soares on the theory of animism in Amadeo’s work; and a text by Sophie Goetzmann dedicated to the study of the correspondence exchanged between these artists and friends.

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