Tamara de Lempicka
Tamara Rozalia Gurwik-Górska
16 May 1898
|Died||18 March 1980 81) (aged|
|Movement||Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris|
(m. 1916;div. 1931)
Raoul Kuffner de Diószegh
(m. 1934;died 1961)
|Children||1, Maria Krystyna 'Kizette' Łempicka Foxhall (daughter) (1916-2001)|
|Relatives||Adrienne Górska, architect (sister)|
Tamara Łempicka (born Tamara Rozalia Gurwik-Górska;16 May 1898 – 18 March 1980; colloquial: Tamara de Lempicka) was a Polish painter who spent her working life in France and the United States. She is best known for her polished Art Deco portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy, and for her highly stylized paintings of nudes.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.
Born in Warsaw, Lempicka briefly moved to Saint Petersburg where she married a prominent Polish lawyer, then travelled to Paris. She studied painting with Maurice Denis and André Lhote. Her style was a blend of late, refined cubism and the neoclassical style, particularly inspired by the work of Jean-Dominique Ingres.She was an active participant in the artistic and social life of Paris between the Wars. In 1928 she became the mistress of Baron Raoul Kuffner, a wealthy art collector from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the death of his wife in 1933, the Baron married Lempicka in 1934, and thereafter she became known in the press as "The Baroness with a Brush".
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula River in east-central Poland and its population is officially estimated at 1.770 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.1 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 8th most-populous capital city in the European Union. The city limits cover 516.9 square kilometres (199.6 sq mi), while the metropolitan area covers 6,100.43 square kilometres (2,355.39 sq mi). Warsaw is an alpha global city, a major international tourist destination, and a significant cultural, political and economic hub. Its historical Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.
Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, she and her husband moved to the United States and she painted celebrity portraits, as well as still lifes and, in the 1960s, some abstract paintings. Her work was out of fashion after World War II, but made a comeback in the late 1960s, with the rediscovery of Art Deco. She moved to Mexico in 1974, where she died in 1980. At her request, her ashes were scattered over the Popocatépetl volcano.
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which are either natural or man-made.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Popocatépetl is an active stratovolcano, located in the states of Puebla and Morelos, in central Mexico, and lies in the eastern half of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. At 5,426 m (17,802 ft) it is the second highest peak in Mexico, after Citlaltépetl at 5,636 m (18,491 ft).
She was born on 16 May 1898, in Warsaw, then part of Congress Poland of the Russian Empire.Her father was Boris Gurwik-Górski, a Russian Jewish attorney for a French trading company, and her mother was Malwina Decler, a Polish Catholic socialite who had lived most of her life abroad and who met her husband at one of the European spas. When she was ten, her mother commissioned a pastel portrait of her by a prominent local artist. She detested posing and was dissatisfied with the finished work. She took the pastels, had her younger sister pose, and made her first portrait.
Congress Poland or Russian Poland, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland, was a polity created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna as a sovereign Polish state. Until the November Uprising in 1831, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Tsars of Russia. Thereafter, the state was forcibly integrated into the Russian Empire over the course of the 19th century. In 1915, during World War I, it was replaced by the Central Powers with the nominal Regency Kingdom of Poland, which continued to exist until Poland regained independence in 1918.
The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.
Jews in Russia have historically constituted a large religious diaspora; the vast territories of the Russian Empire at one time hosted the largest population of Jews in the world. Within these territories the primarily Ashkenazi Jewish communities of many different areas flourished and developed many of modern Judaism's most distinctive theological and cultural traditions, while also facing periods of anti-Semitic discriminatory policies and persecutions. The largest group among Russian Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, but the community also includes a significant proportion of other non-Ashkenazi from other Jewish diaspora including Mountain Jews, Sephardic Jews, Crimean Karaites, Krymchaks, Bukharan Jews, and Georgian Jews.
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. After her parents divorced in 1912, she chose to spend the summer with her wealthy Aunt Stefa in Saint Petersburg.There, in 1915, she met and fell in love with a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki (1888–1951). Her family offered him a large dowry, and they were married in 1916 in the chapel of the Knights of Malta in St. Petersburg.
Lausanne is a city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and the capital and biggest city of the canton of Vaud. The city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva. It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura Mountains to its north-west. Lausanne is located 62 kilometres northeast of Geneva.
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a landlocked sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.
The Russian Revolution in November 1917 overturned their comfortable life. In December 1917, Tadeusz Łempicki was arrested in the middle of the night by the Cheka, the secret police. Tamara searched the prisons for him, and with the help of the Swedish consul, to whom she offered her favors, she secured his release.They traveled to Copenhagen then to London and finally to Paris, where Tamara's family had also found refuge.
The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, abbreviated as VChK and commonly known as Cheka, was the first of a succession of Soviet secret police organizations. Established on December 5 1917 by the Sovnarkom, it came under the leadership of Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Polish aristocrat-turned-communist. By late 1918, hundreds of Cheka committees had sprung up in various cities at the oblast, guberniya, raion, uyezd, and volost levels.
Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.
In Paris, the Łempickis lived for a while from the sale of family jewels. Tadeusz proved unwilling or unable to find suitable work. Their daughter, Maria Krystyna "Kizette", was born around 1919,adding to their financial needs. Lempicka decided to become a painter at her sister's suggestion, and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière with Maurice Denis and then with André Lhote, who was to have a greater influence on her style. Her first paintings were still lifes and portraits of her daughter Kizette and her neighbor. She sold her first paintings through the Galerie Colette-Weil, which allowed her to exhibit at the Salon des independents, the Salon d'automne, and the Salon des moins de trente ans, for promising young painters. She exhibited at the Salon d'automne for the first time in 1922. During this period, she signed her paintings "Lempitzki"—the masculine form of her name.
Her breakthrough came in 1925, with the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which later gave its name to the style Art Deco. She exhibited her paintings in two of the major venues, the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des femmes peintres. Her paintings were spotted by American journalists from Harper's Bazaar and other fashion magazines, and her name became known.In the same year, she had her first major exposition in Milan, Italy, organized for her by Count Emmanuele Castelbarco. For this show, Lempicka painted 28 new works in six months. During her Italian tour, she took a new lover, the Marquis Sommi Picenardi. She was also invited to meet the famous Italian poet and playwright Gabriele d'Annunzio. She visited him twice at his villa on Lake Garda, seeking to paint his portrait; he, in turn, was set on seduction. After her unsuccessful attempts to secure the commission, she went away angry, while d'Annunzio also remained unsatisfied.
In 1927, Lempicka won her first major award, the first prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France, for her portrait of Kizette on the Balcony. In 1929, another portrait of Kizette, at her First Communion, won a bronze medal at the international exposition in Poznań, Poland.In 1928 she was divorced from Tadeusz Łempicki. That same year, she met Raoul Kuffner, a baron of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and an art collector. His title was not an ancient one; his family had been granted the title by the second-to-last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz-Joseph I, because Kuffner's family had been the supplier of beef and beer to the imperial court. He owned properties of considerable size in eastern Europe. He commissioned her to paint his mistress, the Spanish dancer Nana de Herrera. Lempicka finished the portrait (which was not very flattering to de Herrera) and took the place of de Herrera as the mistress of the baron. She bought an apartment on rue Méchain in Paris and had it decorated by the modernist architect Robert Mallet-Stevens and her sister Adrienne de Montaut. The furniture was by Rene Herbst. The austere, functional interiors appeared in decoration magazines.
In 1929, Lempicka painted one of her best-known works, Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) , for the cover of the German fashion magazine Die Dame. This showed her at the wheel of a Bugatti racing car wearing a leather helmet and gloves and wrapped in a gray scarf, a portrait of cold beauty, independence, wealth, and inaccessibility.In fact, she did not own a Bugatti automobile; her own car was a small yellow Renault, which was stolen one night when she and her friends were celebrating at La Rotonde in Montparnasse.
She traveled to the United States for the first time in 1929 to paint a portrait of the fiancée of the American oilman Rufus T. Bush and to arrange a show of her work at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. The exposition was a success, but the money she earned was lost when the bank she used collapsed following the stock market crash of 1929. The portrait of Joan Jeffery, fiancée of Rufus T. Bush, was completed but put into storage following the couple's divorce in 1932. It was sold by Christies in 2004 following the death of Joan (now Vanderpool).Lempicka's career reached a peak during the 1930s. She painted portraits of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of Greece. Museums began to collect her works. In 1933, she traveled to Chicago where her pictures were shown alongside those of Georgia O'Keeffe, Santiago Martínez Delgado, and Willem de Kooning. Despite the Great Depression, she continued to receive commissions and showed her work at several Paris galleries.
The wife of Baron Kuffner died in 1933.De Lempicka married him on 3 February 1934 in Zurich. She was alarmed by the rise of the Nazis and persuaded her husband to sell most of his properties in Hungary and to move his fortune and his belongings to Switzerland.
In the winter of 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, Lempicka and her husband moved to the United States. They settled first in Los Angeles. The Paul Reinhard Gallery organized a show of her work, and they moved to Beverly Hills, settling into the former residence of the film director King Vidor. Shows of her work were organized at the Julian Levy Gallery in New York, the Courvoisier Galleries in San Francisco, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art, but her shows did not have the success she had hoped for. Her daughter Kizette was able to escape from occupied France via Lisbon and joined them in Los Angeles in 1941. Kizette married a Texas geologist, Harold Foxhall. In 1943, Baron Kuffner and de Lempicka relocated to New York City.
In the postwar years, she continued a frenetic social life, but she had fewer commissions for society portraits. Her art deco style looked anachronistic in the period of postwar modernism and abstract expressionism. She expanded her subject matter to include still lifes, and in 1960 she began to paint abstract works and to use a palette knife instead of her smooth earlier brushwork. She sometimes reworked earlier pieces in her new style. The crisp and direct Amethyste (1946) became the pink and fuzzy Girl with Guitar (1963). She had a show at the Ror Volmar Gallery in Paris in May and June 1961, but it did not revive her earlier success.
Baron Kuffner died of a heart attack on November 1961 on the ocean liner Liberté en route to New York.Following his death, Lempicka sold many of her possessions and made three around-the-world trips by ship. In 1963, Lempicka moved to Houston, Texas, to be with Kizette and her family and retired from her life as a professional artist. She continued to repaint her earlier works. She repainted her well-known Autoportrait (1929) twice between 1974 and 1979; Autoportrait III was sold, though she hung Autoportrait II in her retirement apartments, where it would remain until her death. The last work she painted was the fourth copy of her painting of St. Anthony.
In 1974, she decided to move to Cuernavaca, Mexico. After the death of her husband in 1979, Kizette moved to Cuernavaca to take care of de Lempicka, whose health was declining. De Lempicka died in her sleep on 18 March 1980. Following her wishes, her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatépetl.
A resurgence of interest in Art Deco began in the late 1960s. A retrospective of her work was held at the Luxembourg Gallery in Paris in 1972, a few years before her death, and received positive reviews.After her death, her early Art Deco paintings were being shown and purchased once again. A stage play, Tamara , was inspired by her meeting with Gabriele D'Annunzio and was first staged in Toronto; it then ran in Los Angeles for eleven years (1984–1995) at the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, making it the longest running play in Los Angeles, and some 240 actors were employed over the years. The play was also subsequently produced at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City. In 2005, the actress and artist Kara Wilson performed Deco Diva, a one-woman stage play based on Lempicka's life. Her life and her relationship with one of her models is fictionalized in Ellis Avery's novel The Last Nude, which won the American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Barbara Gittings Literature Award for 2013.
The best description of Lempicka's work was her own: "I was the first woman to make clear paintings", she later told her daughter, "and that was the origin of my success. Among a hundred canvases, mine were always recognizable. The galleries tended to show my pictures in the best rooms, because they attracted people. My work was clear and finished. I looked around me and could only see the total destruction of painting. The banality in which art had sunk gave me a feeling of disgust. I was searching for a craft that no longer existed; I worked quickly with a delicate brush. I was in search of technique, craft, simplicity and good taste. My goal: never copy. Create a new style, with luminous and brilliant colors, rediscover the elegance of my models."
She 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.
Her first teacher at the Academie Ranson in Paris was Maurice Denis, who taught her according to his celebrated maxim: "Remember that a painting, before it is a war horse, a nude woman or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order." He was primarily a decorative artist, who taught her the traditional craftsmanship of painting.Her other influential teacher was André Lhote, who taught her to follow a softer, more refined form of cubism that did not shock the viewer or look out of place in a luxurious living room. Her cubism was far from that of Pablo Picasso or Georges Braque; For her, Picasso "embodied the novelty of destruction". Lempicka combined this soft cubism with a neoclassical style, inspired largely by Ingres, particularly his famous Turkish Bath, with its exaggerated nudes crowding the canvas. Her painting La Belle Rafaëlla was especially influenced by Ingres. Lempicka's technique, following Ingres, was clean, precise, and elegant, but at the same time charged with sensuality and a suggestion of vice. The cubist elements of her paintings were usually in the background, behind the Ingresque figures. The smooth skin textures and equally smooth, luminous fabrics of the clothes were the dominant elements of her paintings.
Known especially for her portraits of wealthy aristocrats, she also painted highly stylized nudes.The nudes are usually female, whether depicted alone or in groups; Adam and Eve (1931) features one of her few male nudes. After the mid-1930s, when her Art Deco portraits had gone out of fashion, she turned to painting less frivolous subject matter in the same style. She painted a number of Madonnas and turbaned women inspired by Renaissance paintings, as well as mournful subjects such as The Mother Superior (1935), an image of a nun with a tear rolling down her cheek, and Escape (1940), which depicts refugees. Of these, art historian Gilles Néret wrote, "The baroness's more 'virtuous' subjects are, it must be said, lacking in conviction when compared with the sophisticated and gallant works on which her former glory had been founded." Lempicka introduced elements of Surrealism in paintings such as Surrealist Hand (c. 1947) and in some of her still lifes, such as The Key (1946). Between 1953 and the early 1960s, Lempicka painted hard-edged abstractions that bear a stylistic similarity to the Purism of the 1920s. Her last works, painted in warm tones with a palette knife, have usually been considered her least successful.
Lempicka placed high value on working to produce her own fortune, famously saying, "There are no miracles, there is only what you make." She took this personal success and created a hedonistic lifestyle for herself, accompanied by intense love affairs within high society.
Famous for her libido, Lempicka 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 included themes of desire and seduction. In the 1920s, she became closely associated with lesbian and bisexual women in writing and artistic circles, among them Violet Trefusis, Vita Sackville-West, and Colette. She also became involved with Suzy Solidor, a nightclub singer at the Boîte de Nuit, whose portrait she later painted.
Kizette rarely saw her mother, but was immortalized in her paintings. Lempicka painted her only child repeatedly, leaving a striking portrait series: Kizette in Pink, 1926; Kizette on the Balcony, 1927; Kizette Sleeping, 1934; Portrait of Baroness Kizette, 1954–1955, among others. In other paintings, the women depicted tend to resemble Kizette.
American singer Madonna is an admirer and collector of Lempicka's workand has lent paintings to events and museums. Madonna has featured Lempicka's work in her music videos for "Open Your Heart" (1987), "Express Yourself" (1989), "Vogue" (1990) and "Drowned World/Substitute for Love" (1998). She also used paintings by Lempicka on the sets of her 1987 Who's That Girl and 1990 Blond Ambition world tours.
Other notable Lempicka collectors include actor Jack Nicholson and singer-actress Barbra Streisand.
Robert Dassanowsky's book Telegrams from the Metropole: Selected Poems 1980–1998 includes the poems "Tamara de Lempicka" and "La Donna d'Oro" dedicated to Kizette de Lempicka.
Lempicka's paintings are featured on the UK book covers of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
On 16 May 2018, in celebration of the 120th anniversary of her birth, Google made her the subject of the daily Google Doodle.
In July 2018, a biographical musical, Lempicka , premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Édouard Manet was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.
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Joseph Fernand Henri Léger was a French painter, sculptor, and filmmaker. In his early works he created a personal form of cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style. His boldly simplified treatment of modern subject matter has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of pop art.
Suzanne Valadon was a French painter and artists' model who was born Marie-Clémentine Valadon at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, France. In 1894, Valadon became the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She was also the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. The subjects of her drawings and paintings included mostly female nudes, female portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. She never attended the academy and was never confined within a tradition. Valadon spent nearly 40 years of her life as an artist.
The year 1925 in art involved some significant events and new works.
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Tamara is a play of 1981 by John Krizanc about the painter Tamara de Lempicka. The play is based on the historical meeting of Gabriele d'Annunzio and Lempicka, who was hoping to be commissioned by d'Annunzio to paint his portrait. He had invited her to his villa at Gardone Riviera, on the southwest shore of Lake Garda, a villa now known as Il Vittoriale degli Italiani.
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Suzy Solidor was a French singer and actress, appearing in films such as La Garçonne.
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Adrienne Górska was a Polish architect who worked in the Modernist and Art Deco styles in Paris between the world wars. She was one of the few women of her day to receive a university diploma in architecture.
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Adam and Eve is an oil on panel painting by a Polish Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka. It was completed in 1932 and is a religious subject based on the Art Deco style. The painting is 116 by 73 centimeters, and is housed in a private collection.
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Autoportrait is a self-portrait by the Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka, which she painted in Paris in 1929. It was commissioned by the German fashion magazine 'Die Dame for the cover of the magazine, to celebrate the independence of women. It is one of the best-known examples of Art Deco portrait painting.
Véra Rockline was a Russian post-impressionist painter.
Lempicka is a musical with music by Matt Gould and lyrics and a book by Carson Kreitzer. Based on the life of Tamara de Lempicka, the musical made its world premiere try-out at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The musical follows the life of de Lempicka as she flees the Russian Revolution in Paris, France. Lempicka and her beloved husband Tadeusz must make a new life in Paris with their daughter Kizette. Facing the rise of fascism, Tamara takes to painting to survive, and when she meets the free-spirited Rafaela, a prostitute on the fringes of Parisian society, she's torn between the life she cherishes with her husband and the passion, ambition, and possibility awoken in her by her new muse. Inspired by the life of the artist who transformed herself from penniless refugee to star of the art world when the world itself teetered on chaos, Lempicka looks at the beauty and danger of one painter pursuing it all.
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