Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Art Blogging: Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) was a Polish-American Art Deco painter. She was born into a wealthy family of Warsaw and educated in Switzerland. Her family sought refuge from the Russian Revolution in Paris, where she studied at the hip Acadamie de la Grande Chaumiere. Lempicka was an instant success and surged to fame during the Roaring Twenties. She was an acclaimed bohemian socialite whose wild affairs led to her eventual divorce. Marrying a Hungarian baron, she foresaw World War II and moved to New York City. After the baron died, she moved to Houston, Texas in 1962 and began exhibiting a new style in which she painted exclusively with a palette knife. After these new works were rejected by critics, she retired from public exhibition. Lempicka moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1978 and died two years later.

Calla Lilies (1941). One of the aspects of Lempicka's style that I enjoy is that her two-dimensionality uses shadow to establish form, rather than shadow serving as an afterthought.

Mother Superior (1939). Have you ever seen Picasso's early renderings from art school? Terrible. The guy had no talent, or at least enough talent to succeed as a professional artist if he painted realistically. So he invented a style that he could execute without any talent in the technical aspects of the visual arts. But that is not the case with Lempicka. Her works have the texture of creased sheet metal, but that isn't from a lack of ability. You can see this vividly in the delicate tears on this nun's face.

Young Girl with Gloves (1929). You can almost feel the wind blowing through this scene.

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