Tamara de Lempicka

Maria Górska, better known as Tamara de Lempicka, is a modern Polish artist born in 1898. From a well-to-do family, she travelled to Eastern Europe. When the First World War broke out, she was forced to stay in St. Petersburg and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1916, she married Tadeusz Lempicki, a Polish lawyer. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 forced the couple, who were very wealthy, to go into exile, first to Copenhagen and then to Paris. Tamara de Lempicka decided to start a career as a painter, in particular to support her family financially in this exile. Her husband was struggling to find work. In 1920, she followed the teachings of Maurice Denis and André Lhote at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. It was there that she really began to form her iconic style: a combination of neo-cubism, mannerism and futurism, sharp and smooth colours, volumes highlighted by a marked chiaroscuro and modern subjects. She travels to Italy to copy the works of masters she admires such as Pontormo. She develops her sensual and decorative style all the more following this event. In 1922, she presented one of her portraits at the Salon d’automne in Paris. It was following a personal exhibition in 1925 in Milan that her career really took off. It was an immediate success, allowing her to live a luxurious life and to frequent the bohemian and Parisian elite of her time. She made many portraits. The artist often portrays boys, an ambiguous figure of the time and characteristic of the Art Deco movement, which often gives rise to interpretations of the model’s indecent sexuality. Lempicka seems to have a great appreciation for women, even though she was married twice. She advocates emancipation and worships modernity. She remarries in 1933 with Baron Raoul Kuffner. This one brings her a great comfort of life, which makes her put aside painting little by little. She fled the Second World War by moving to the United States, where she organised three exhibitions. Art Deco is out of fashion, and her work falls completely into oblivion until the 1970s when a revival of this artistic style occurs. Lempicka was rediscovered and became a major success, inspiring pop culture icons such as Madonna. The artist died in 1980 in Mexico.

Lempicka’s pictorial style made her an essential modern artist. Her persona and her image as an emancipated woman that she built around glamour and luxury remain true myths. Her works of art are highly prized; the highest amounts for her works are between three and five million euros, going as high as 12 million euros. His artistic production is very limited. This rarity, as well as the enthusiasm of collectors and art lovers for the artist, partly explains such prices.

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