I’m not a great fan of modern art, but every now and again the occasional piece jumps out and grabs me. ‘Le Bal Bullier’ painted by French artist Sonia Delaunay in 1913 is one such painting. While in Paris a few years ago my husband and I visited the Musee d’Art Moderne in the Centre Pompidou, and saw there the original oil on canvas – not being a natural modern art aficionado I’d never heard of Sonia Delaunay before, so finding her work was an enlightening discovery for me.
The scene depicts swaying couples dancing the tango in the Bullier Ballroom in Paris during the early years of the Twentieth Century, and to my eye there is just so much fluidity of movement and blending of colour in this painting I fell in love with it the moment I saw it hanging on the wall.
Perhaps this particular image doesn’t really do it justice, as I feel that the somewhat muted colours here lack some of the ‘punch’ of the real thing, yet some of the stock images I’ve seen online seem to my eye to be too garishly bright, which is not at all how I remember it. I remember a soft subtlety about the juxtaposition of tone, creating an understated pleasing resonance rather than an in-your-face cacophony of colour.
I suppose taking a picture of any canvas solely under gallery lighting is never going to be ideal – but nevertheless this is our photograph of the original painting, taken on the day I first saw it, and therefore it holds a particular sentimental meaning for me. It’s amazing to think that this particular work is now over 100 years old, but yet for me it retains a vibrancy of feeling that keeps it fresh and new even today