Saturday, November 08, 2014

'Tamara de Lempicka, 1898-1980: Goddess of the Automobile Age'

Gilles Néret's Tamara de Lempicka, 1898-1980: Goddess of the Automobile Age (Cologne: Taschen, 2011; originally published in 2007) presents Lempicka -- the person and the artist -- catapulting through the 1920s and 1930s, then escaping to North America just ahead of the Second World War -- with a rich husband in tow. Exuding incredible chutzpah, she became an Ingres for the Auto Age -- that is, she painted in an Art Deco style inspired by French Neo-Classicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), with bold human forms and metallic trim.

Of Lempicka's persona, Néret observes that she "was a dandy, comparable to Beau Brummel or . . . Countess Greffulhe . . . model for Marcel Proust's Duchess de Guermantes. She had that certain something which made her manner so delicious . . . so assured that her distinguished superiority imposed itself without any prompting . . ." (page 14).  
Lempicka, Woman in a Yellow Dress, 1929
Chapter titles give a sense of the rest:

Cool, Disconcerting Beauty: this Woman is Free . . .
La Belle Polonaise
The Art of the Caesars
Bedtime Stories: the Beautiful Young Woman and the Ugly Old Dwarf*
Success: Money and Title
"She is such fun, and her pictures are so amusing"
*Infamous Italian poet, Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938).
Lempicka, The Musician, 1929
Lempicka was an exemplar of the 1920s and 1930s in her creations of colorful, exciting artworks that people immediately wanted to acquire and display. In this context: "The whole era bears the stamp of the post-cubism of the Twenties and the neo-classicism of the Thirties . . . Tamara's women fit perfectly into their epoch, an epoch of luxury and ease for the rich, and of extreme distress for the rest" (page 31). 
Lempicka, Young Ladies, 1927
Today's Rune: Protection. 


Charles Gramlich said...

The art is very cool.

jodi said...

Erik-I adore Tamara's work. I have a print of her lying on a pillow. Andiamo in Warren used to have about 9 of her works in giant form. They redecorated and took them down. The place will never be the same