Tamara de LEMPICKA — An Art Deco Idol
Disclaimer: The information provided in this episode comes from multiple sources and is not my scientific studies or discoveries. Check the references for more details. Thank you!
Welcome to HerArt podcast, a project for art lovers, especially art created by women. In this episode, we will talk about Tamara de LEMPICKA a Polish-born painter, and most active in the 1920s and 1930s, best known for her polished Art-Deco portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy, and for her highly-stylized paintings of nudes. Famed for her innovative and enduring artwork Tamara broke the mold for female artists in the early 20th century.
Curious Fact #1
Tamara de Lempicka was born Maria Gorska in Warsaw, Poland, in 1898. Introduced to art at the age of 12, her mother had paid for an established painter to create her daughter’s portrait. Unsatisfied with the results and convinced that she could do better herself, de Lempicka set out on a task that would subsequently carve out a successful, if tumultuous career.
Curious Fact #2
In 1911 her parents sent her to a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, but she was bored and she feigned illness to be permitted to leave the school. Instead, her grandmother took her on a tour of Italy, where she developed her interest in art. Her parents divorced in 1912, and her mother remarried. She refused to spend her holidays with her family. Instead, she spent the summer with her wealthy aunt Stéfa in Saint Petersburg. There, in 1915, she met and fell in love with a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki. Her family offered him a large dowry, and they were married in 1916 in the chapel of the Knights of Malta in St. Petersburg, at age of 18.
Curious Fact #3
Forced to leave the city as a refugee during the Soviet Revolution, she fled to Paris through financial necessity and learned to paint, exhibit and sell her works. Now known as Tamara de Lempicka, the refugee studied art and worked day and night. She became a well-known portrait painter with a distinctive Art Deco manner. Quintessentially French, Deco was the part of an exotic, sexy, and glamorous Paris that epitomized Tamara’s living and painting style.
Curious Fact #4
The artist placed a high value on working to produce her own fortune, famously saying “There are no miracles, there is only what you make.” de Lempicka took this personal success and created a hedonistic lifestyle for herself, accompanied by intense love affairs within high society.
Curious Fact #5
Famous for her libido, she was bisexual. Her affairs with both men and women were conducted in ways that were considered scandalous at the time. She often used formal and narrative elements in her portraits, and her nude studies produced overpowering effects of desire and seduction.
Curious Fact #6
de Lempicka was one of the best-known painters of the Art Deco style, a group which included Jean Dupas, Diego Rivera, Josep Maria Sert, Reginald Marsh, and Rockwell Kent, but unlike these artists, who often painted large murals with crowds of subjects, she focused almost exclusively on portraits.
Curious Fact #7
In 1978 Tamara moved to Mexico permanently, buying a beautiful house in Cuernavaca called Tres Bambus, built by a Japanese architect in a chic neighborhood. She despaired of growing old and in her last years sought the company of young people. She mourned at the loss of her beauty and was cantankerous to the end. Tamara de Lempicka died in her sleep on March 18, 1980, with her daughter Kizette at her side. Her wish to be cremated and have her ashes spread on the top of the volcano Popocatépetl was carried out.
Thank you so much for listening to the sixth episode of HerArt podcast — a project for art lovers, especially art created by women. If you want to follow more of what we do, find us on Facebook and Instagram. And don’t forget to tune in next month, when I am going to tell you about Grace COSSINGTON SMITH — the spirit of light.