Art Decadence?
April 27, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Self Portrait of the painter Tamara de Lempicka; Born Maria Gorska 1898 in Poland. Lempicka lived a Life of Deco and Decadence. Her portraits are known for mixing “lighting by Caravaggio, tubism by Fernand Léger and lipstick by Chanel”. Her Complete works are viewable as a slideshow. Criticised as portraying the dubious glamour and discipline of fascism; she became the most talked about Art Deco painter of her time; her erotic portraits are testaments of the glittering 1920's. Here is a reassessment (pdf). She died in 1980 and her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatepetl . (wiki) (some links nsfw)
posted by adamvasco (12 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite Tamara de Lempicka story concerns her stay at Gabriele d'Annunzio villa. The short version is: She wanted to sell him a portrait, he wanted to seduce her. The long version includes flashing, riding crops, and a naked horse chase.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on April 27, 2009

Oh man! Tamara de Lempicka is awesome. I can't wait to dig into these links.
posted by Kattullus at 9:09 AM on April 27, 2009

these are like those 80's airbrush 'paintings' of women only for the roaring 20's... go tubism!
posted by geos at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2009

I always liked the Green Turban
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2009

I once worked in a gallery that had a Tamara de Lempicka show - they cast a wide net to get as many pieces on consignment as possible. One came in - it was an original oil of a woman's face, about 8.5 by 11 inches. The owner demanded a price around 250k, which almost seemed justified, given how pristine the face looked. Most of her works still floating around the market are 2nd rate (pretty much the case for all great 20th century artists). In fact, it looked almost *too* pristine.

So we took it to the back and ran a black light over the face. Under the UV, the beautiful-skinned woman resembled a zombie. The original de Lempicka had had significant restoration. It was unfit for sale.

There's no real moral to the story except perhaps - if you're going to spend that much money, do your research.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 9:39 AM on April 27, 2009

There was a memorable play called Tamara, performed in a historic house in Toronto in 1981. Different scenes played in different rooms and you could choose to follow a character when they left a room or remain in the room with other characters. In the grounds, actors walked Borzoi hounds and drove up in 1920s cars. Very cool. In your 1920's link she looks exactly like Rosalind Russell in Mame.
posted by binturong at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

A beautiful marriage of classical and modern sensibilities. I dig how she uses and renders light. There is this nice tension: the figures seem massive and solid, but there is also a feeling of grace and what? Let's say, uh, buoyancy. And of course, there is a serious sexiness going on here. Every once in a while I still meet one of those people who think that abstraction in art is antithetical to humanness. (I know! But it's true.) This would be a nice body of work for them to contemplate. (And thanks adamvasco. I always look forward to an opportunity to trot out the ol' artspeak.)
posted by barrett caulk at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have too many favorites to list here. Thank you for the great links!

Somehow I missed that D'Annunzio story. It sounds like his maid, Aélis Mazoyer, had some stories to tell.
posted by annaramma at 9:43 AM on April 27, 2009

Iconic paintings, but I don't have any time for her and her handful of ideas. She was taught by the far more interesting, far more talented André Lhote, who invented the "synthetic cubism" from where Lempicka's style sprang. She was also a pupil of the incomparable Maurice Denis.
posted by fire&wings at 10:33 AM on April 27, 2009

I'm reluctant to go poking around for it while I'm at work, but I saw one of her nudes at the MFA's Art Deco show a few years ago and it was smoking hot. If they'd left me alone in there I might have engaged in a little art appreciation, if you know what I mean.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:33 AM on April 27, 2009

What a dame! I had been vaguely aware of her, but I knew very little of this. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2009

Yeah, a whole lot of Leger influence there. But an interesting body of work (no pun intended, yikes.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:27 PM on April 27, 2009

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