Tamara De Lempicka
It was Tamara de Lempicka’s boldly coloured, highly stylized and erotic paintings that attracted my attention when I was a teenager and ultimately sparked my love affair with Art Deco. Characterized by classic Art Deco styling — angular forms, bold, bright colours and exuding an ultra-glam, super-sexy vibe — her paintings are by far the most recognizable of the Art Deco era.
Her life was as deliciously decadent as her paintings. She was born in Poland on May 16, 1898, married and moved to Russia at 16 and escaped the turmoil of the Russian Revolution at 20 with her Russian husband, Thadeus Lempitzski. They had one daughter, Kizette, who was frequently featured in her mother’s famous paintings. They divorced shortly after de Lempicka learned of her husband’s sordid affairs with a multitude of nude women pics.
She attended the Académie Ransom from 1925 to 1939, studying under the famous painter, Maurice Denis. Her work was first exhibited in Paris at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Less than two years later she won the first prize at the Exposition International des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux.
This catapulted her to celebrity status and all of Europe’s high society coveted a portrait painted by the gorgeous and gifted Tamara. She led a scandalous(!) lifestyle and was rumored to have slept with many of her male and female ‘subjects’.
She married Baron Kuffner, one of her patrons, in 1933 and together they escaped Paris to Hollywood in 1939. They moved to New York in 1943, where she began to experiment in abstract art and still life. A negative review of one of her exhibits, and the death of her husband in 1962, led her to abandon painting once and for all.
There was some renewed interest in her paintings during the Art Deco resurgence in the 1970s, however, de Lempicka had fallen into a depression and retreated from public life at this point. She moved to Mexico in 1978 and died there in 1980.
Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings are more popular than ever today and she is considered to be one of the most famous and most admired of all the Art Deco artists.