I watched this programme the other nights, wrote about it, then ‘lost’ the post! Art Deco artist, as she is often referred to, Tamara de Lempicka has always been a bit of a favourite of mine since I was at Uni. She has many fans, amongst them the artiste Madonna, a keen collector of her work. ‘The Baroness with a brush’ was born in Warsaw Poland (1898 – 1980) and enjoyed a privileged life as part of the St Petersburg Literati as a girl before she fled to Paris France with her first husband Tadeusz Lempicki to escape the Bolshevics.
Lempicka’s art was defined as being a kind of soft or synthetic cubism. Her images were glossy, elegant and emotionlessly chic like fashion photography in the magazines of the time; Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
Lempicka’s peak as a fashionable artist came roughly between 1922 – 35. After that, she seems to have lost her way a bit, embracing a new unconvincing sentimental style that just didn’t seem to work for her. She also flirted with abstraction, which also failed. Towards the end of her life though, there was a resurgence of interest in her art.
There has been much written about the artist’s personal life. She was a free spirit and notorious for her exploits. But she also supported herself with her art and was a very single minded independent woman too.
It is not my intention to retell the artist’s life story here, though it does make interesting reading. Amongst the many books written about her, I think Stefanie Pencks’ and ‘Tamara de Lempicka’ (Pegasus) and Gilles Neret ‘Lempicka’ (Taschen) are good books.
Lempicka’s paintings have been featured on Madonna’s music videos ‘Open your Heart’ 1987, ‘Vogue’ 1990 and ‘Express yourself’ 1989