Tamara de Lempicka
May 30, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
We enjoy writing about all sorts of vintage treasures and topics, but we recently realized that we’re leaving out a major group that impacts us daily: artists. And for us Tamara de Lempicka is the ideal visionary to introduce this new section! Her life was just as dynamic and colorful as her work and her self portrait exudes the kind of confidence and determination that continues to inspire us.
Who was Tamara de Lempicka?
Born in 1898 Poland, she experienced the world first as a rich and entitled young lady. Yet her perspective would not always be so sheltered. Studying in Switzerland broadened her mind and trips to Italy and the French Riviera introduced her to the world of painting. An energetic and captivating person, she married at a young age to one of the most eligible bachelors in Warsaw. The union had a shaky beginning as her husband, Tadeusz Lempicki, was captured during the Russian Revolution. Tamara worked hard to secure his release and the young couple fled to Paris. Here she gave birth to her only child, daughter Kizette, and two years later Tamara embarked on her career path.
She began her studies in 1918 at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. Let’s consider that for a moment: a young woman, new to a country, new to motherhood, her life unraveled by war… picks herself back up and starts an adventure. That in and of itself is inspiring. But what she chose to do with her training is truly incredible.
What is Tamara de Lempicka known for?
Many critics cite her work as the embodiment of the Jazz Age. Tamara’s style was influenced by Expressionism and Cubism, but it remained highly individual. She worked in a series of facets, unfolding the monumental power of her subjects in a precise, but elegant manner. There is a strong sense of geometry to her paintings, but the proportions are handled in a way that doesn’t overpower anything. Often the background imagery would be futuristic, lending an air of slick modernism to Tamara’s portraits.
In 1925, Tamara de Lempicka debuted her work in a major show in Milan. She produced a extraordinary number of paintings for the event, impressing the visitors and hosts. While Tamara is known for her portraits of high society patrons, she also painted additional subjects from all walks of life. Tamara enjoyed capturing life’s impact on her models – seeing where the lines led. But perhaps her favorite subject was herself. She was quite obsessed with her appearance, painting her features in an ever glamorous manner.
Six years after her debut, her first marriage ended in scandal. In 1934 Tamara married one of her earliest patrons, Baron Kuffner. The Baron and Baroness moved to the United States in 1939 and she began painting Hollywood royalty, perfectly fitting in with the celebrity society. Eventually the couple would relocate to New York and after the end of the Second World War, she reopened her Paris studio. Following the Baron’s death in 1962, she moved to Texas to be with her daughter and began to use the palette knife in her work, moving closer to the abstract movement. This new style didn’t get much critical acclaim and Tamara vowed to never exhibit her pieces again. However her original Art Deco style was about to experience a rebirth thanks to a retrospective. Tamara moved to Mexico in 1978, painting and enjoying the company of young people until her death in 1980.
Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: the artist’s official site, Wikipedia, and the people who post their imagery without restriction.
For our readers: Who is your favorite artist and why? Are you drawn more to Tamara’s early, Art Deco work or do you like the softness and light incorporated in her later years?