Tamara de Lempicka

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Tamara de Lempicka
Autoportrait art deco artwork by Tamara de Lempicka

Autoportrait

Bio
Born: 05/16/1898
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Died: 03/18/1980
Age: 81
Movements Art Deco
Nationality Polish
Expertise Painting

Born Maria Gorska, Tamara de Lempicka was renowned for both her own beauty and her ability to create beauty. The painter captured the sensuality and stylized quality of the Art Deco movement. She also embodied the glamour of her era.

Personal life

Maria Gorska was born in 1898 to an affluent Polish family. As a young woman, she was well-traveled, accustomed to fine clothes and elegant surroundings. In 1916, the headstrong young woman married a wealthy bachelor named Tadeusz Lempicki. Now called Tamara de Lempicka, the youthful bride struggled when her husband ended up imprisoned during the Russian Revolution. After freeing him, de Lempicka accompanied her husband on a journey to safety. They eventually settled in Paris, where de Lempicka began her painting career in earnest. The couple had one daughter, nicknamed Kizette. As her reputation as an artist grew, de Lempicka also became a renowned social butterfly. By 1928, she and her husband had separated, and she married Baron Roul Kuffner in 1934. She would stay married to Kuffner until his death in 1962.

Career

De Lempicka had taken drawing lessons in Russia as a young girl, and she began her art studies again when she and her first husband moved to Paris in 1918. She worked with Maurice Denis, a demanding teacher who helped de Lempicka perfect her craft. Her husband seemed unable to find work, which further fueled de Lempicka’s need to create artwork and earn a living. Her paintings borrowed elements from movements such as Cubism and Neoclassicism. At the same time, each unique painting featured a clean, striking use of color and a certain bold sensuality. De Lempicka’s first exhibit in Milan, Italy, earned her major attention. During this time, de Lempicka mostly painted nude or clothed female figures. The women she painted had strong, luminous bodies and sensuous features. Card Players, completed in 1926, illustrates de Lempicka’s fondness for bringing French glamour into her paintings. De Lempicka captured the elegant, extravagant style of the 1920s so well that many socialites and famous figures commissioned portraits. In 1929, she completed a painting called Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti). This image of a strong, beautiful woman driving a green car graced the cover of a German fashion magazine. The painter created many of her best-known works during this time, including The Pink Tunic in 1927 and The Green Turban in 1929. In the late 1930s, de Lempicka relocated to Hollywood. She hoped to capture the likenesses of Hollywood celebrities. Unfortunately, her reputation was starting to wane, and demand for her services was fading. Stung by the rejection, de Lempicka withdrew from the art scene and focused on her own creativity. She continued to produce works, leaving behind a legacy that defined the Art Deco movement.

Fun Facts

  • De Lempicka was friends with famous artists and thinkers such as Jean Cocteau, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Pablo Picasso.
  • Kizette de Lempicka served as a model for her mother many times, immortalized in various paintings.
  • After her death, a friend scattered de Lempicka’s ashes over the volcano Popocatepetl.

Related Artists

References

Some Examples of Tamara de Lempicka’s Artwork

Jeune Fille en Vert

Jeune Fille en Vert

Woman with Dove art deco artwork by Tamara de Lempicka

Woman with Dove

Portrait of Ira Perot art deco artwork by Tamara de Lempicka

Portrait of Ira Perot