Tamara de Lempicka – The hidden art deco painter

October 27, 2018

 

The streets of Paris flooded with well-dressed women, the magazines full of beautiful and extravagant women, the world of art bursting with female perspectives, and yet, all these women were not allowed to vote.

 

On the same day that the French government voted against the vote for women, Victor Margueritte’s novel ‘La Garçonne’ was attracting an enormous amount of attention. The title of this shocking novel which openly presented lesbianism and single motherhood, became a crucial term for 19th century liberating androgynous style.

 

Tamara de Lempicka became one of the daring women who embraced change, glamour, and ‘the garçonne’. A lively, determined, and fashionable figure, de Lempicka was set to conquer the best and only the best. Tamara introduced a new style of painting to the Parisian society and the rest of the world. She stated: ‘My goal in never to copy. Create a new style, clear luminous colours and feel the elegance of the models’. She did. Her style took Paris by storm. It is a combination of the shading and smoothness of the classical masters, the harshness and crude geometrical forms of cubism, mixed with the sensuality and mystery of the painter herself. There was something in her paintings that attracted the crowds, especially the Parisian aristocracy and upper-class. Overnight she became a sensation in the artistic world. Scandal magazines depicted her as the femme fatale painter, with exquisite taste in fashion and great talent.

 

She was not always like this. Born to a wealthy family, in Warsaw in 1898, she was a rebellious and stubborn child, who refused to conform to her parents’ wishes. She was only 13-years-old when she met her husband, Tadeusz, in Moscow, and managed to successfully seduce him at a party held by her aunt Stefa. It was love at first sight, but she failed to see beyond his façade, and his radically political views essentially held her back. Not only did he force her to remain in Moscow at the time when the Bolshevik party was in power, but he also led her and her daughter into poverty when they moved to France.

 

A femme fatale who paved the road for modern female painters and who worked relentlessly, regardless of external conditions, Tamara de Lempicka was a figure of high importance in the world of art and in the emancipation of women in 19th century.

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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