Basic Art: de Lempicka


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Author Gilles Néret
Publisher Taschen
Date 2017
Cover Hardcover
Dimensions 8.5 x 0.5 x 10.3 in., 96 pages
Through some of her finest, most compelling portraits, this introduction to Tamara de Lempicka (Russian, 1896–1980) explores the artist’s unique visual language and its privileged place not only in the annals of interwar art but also in the history of female artists and in our collective consciousness of the Roaring Twenties.

Tamara de Lempicka lived art in the fast lane. With an appetite for glamour and fame as much as Left Bank bohemianism, she fled her native Russia after the Bolshevik revolution and set about taking Paris by storm. Her prolific, monumental oeuvre remains one of the most vivid documents of 1920s Art Deco.

De Lempicka’s style deployed cool colors and tight, post-cubist forms into an at once neoclassical and voluptuous figuration. Her subjects, often nude, are sensual, aloof, and powerful. Bedecked in seductive light and textures, they command our attention but typically avert their gaze with an aspect of haughty grandeur. Her subjects include both high-society patrons and progressive portraits of emancipated and lesbian women, such as Women Bathing, Portrait of Suzy Solidor, and her notorious Self-Portrait in the Green Bugatti, showing Tamara behind the wheel. A vision of speed, sophistication, and independence, the work was commissioned for the cover of German magazine Die Dame, which defined de Lempicka as the epitome of women's liberation.