Tamara de Lempicka

Artist: Tamara de Lempicka
Born: 16 May 1898, Warsaw, Poland
Nationality: Polish
Movement: Art Deco
Died: 18 March 1980, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Tamara Rozalia Gurwick-Gόrska, better known as Tamara de Lempicka was a painter. She spent most of her working life in France and the USA. She is particularly famous for her Art Deco portraits of the aristocrats and wealthy of the time, and her stylized paintings of the female nudes.

Lempicka moved from Warsaw to Saint Petersburg where she married a prominent Polish Lawyer. She then moved to Paris and studied under Maurice Denis and André L’hote, developing her own late cubism and neoclassical style. She was active participant of the artistic and social Paris life between WW1 and WW2 and became the mistress of Baron Raoul Kuffner, they married in 1934 after the death of his wife and she was known in the social press as the Baroness with a Brush.

After the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, Lempicka and her husband moved to the USA where she painted celebrity portraits, still lifes and some abstracts. After the war her art fell out of fashion but made a comeback in the 1960s with the rediscovery of Art Deco. In 1974 she moved to Mexico where she died in 1980. Her ashes were scattered over the Popocatépetl volcano, as she had requested.

Tamara in a Green Bugatti (1929, oil on panel) is a self-portrait painted for the German fashion magazine ‘Die Dame’ to celebrate the independence of women. Inspired by the 1938 cover of ‘Vu’ featuring a young lady at the wheel of a sports car. Lempicka wears the same Hermès accessories as the model in the Kertėsz photo.
The painting is currently housed in a private collection in Switzerland.
Maternity (1928, oil on panel) is an enlightened depiction of a mother feeding her baby. The subtle cubist background combined with the Ingresque figures make the painting evoke the sensitive tenderness of the bonding between a mother and child during nursing, possibly inspired by reflective memories of that time with her daughter, Kizette, some twelve years before the painting.
The painting is currently housed in a private collection in the UK.
The Girls (1930, Giclee) is among Lempicka’s elegant and alluring paintings of women. Even in sleep Lempicka’s style evokes the sensuality of the feminine, possibly a reflection of the artist’s growing awareness and acceptance of her own sexuality during the late 1920s and 1930s.
The painting is currently located in a private collection.
Andromeda (1929, oil on canvas) is one of Lempicka’s female nudes. The chains on the figure’s wrist symbolize the restrictions of being female at the time of painting, and of the restrictions on sexual freedom that accepting her own bisexuality would have placed of the artist.
The painting is currently part of a private collection.
The Mother Superior (1935, oil on canvas) is an image of a nun with a tear running down her cheek. It was one of several mournful subjects painted by Lempicka. The Ingresque smoothness of the fabric of the nun’s habit dominates the painting and implies the symbolic meaning of that garment weighs heavy on the somewhat aged woman wearing it.
The painting is currently located in a private collection.

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