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Tamara
Lempicka
United States 
1898−1980
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Biography and information
 
Tamara (de) Lempicka (polish Tamara Łempicka, at birth Maria Gurvich-Gurska; May 16, 1898, Warsaw, Poland — March 18, 1980, Cuernavaca, Mexicoa) — an American artist from the family of Russian Jew and polka, who became the personification of the glamor and the direction of Art Deco. In his youth, living in St. Petersburg, meets the future husband of Tadeusz Lempitsky, with whom he flees from Russia, fleeing from the revolution. Due to the lack of livelihoods, they are forced to make a living by drawing, in which they succeed a lot due to the tenacious entrepreneurial spirit and unconditional charisma. Numerous novels destroy the first marriage, but, already renowned as an artist and socialite, she marries a second time — for Baron Raul Kuffner, with whom she runs from the horrors of World War II — this time across the ocean, to the United States of America. There Lempitskaya fails to reach the previous level of fame, although she is experiencing a new round of interest in her work in the 1960s. He spends the rest of his life in Mexico, even in old age, without changing his usual bohemian lifestyle.

Features of the artist Tamara Lempitskaya: He invents his own cocktail of softened version of cubism, clear geometry of draperies and curls of antique statues, sprinkled with varnish gloss and straightness of pure color. She skillfully balanced on the verge of sensuality and eroticism, promptly responding to the urgent requests of the 1920s Paris bourgeois public (1, 2, 3).

Famous paintings by Tamara Lempitskaya: "Self-Portrait in Green Bugatti", "Dream (Rafaela on a green background)", "Tadeusz Lempitski (Portrait of a Man, Unfinished)", "The Beautiful Raphael".

Old masters and troubled times


Tamara was born in a wealthy and respected family of Russian Jew Boris Gurvich-Gursky, a lawyer of a French trading company, and Polish socialite Malvina Dekler. She attended a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and she spent the winter of 1911 with her grandmother on the French Riviera and in Italy, where for the first time she had the opportunity to meet renowned Renaissance painters.

In 1912, the carefree life of a young lady made her first somersault. Her parents divorced (according to other sources, her father committed suicide), and she went to St. Petersburg to Aunt Stephanie when her mother got married for the second time. Tamara plunged into the glittering brilliance of the pre-revolutionary Russian capital — with masquerade balls and social events where she met her love. Tadeusz Lempitsky was a promising lawyer, a handsome writer and an enviable groom. He became her first significant trophy.

The revolution took the young family by surprise. Tadeush was arrested by the NKVD, and Tamara by hook or by crook pulled him out of prison. After wandering through Europe, they settled in Paris, where they lived in cheap apartments, selling off the remaining jewels. Tadeusz could not find himself in a new life, and Tamara, with a one-year-old daughter in her arms, had to take the role of head of the family and earner.

At that time many aristocrats, and immigrant women among them, tried their hand at painting. Tamara decided to follow their example. Realizing that in order to survive in a competitive environment, she needs to try to stand out among others. And she knew how: very soon her name was on everyone’s lips: beautiful, bold, self-confident and not aware of prohibitions and borders, Lempitska became famous for her way of life almost more than artistic talents.

The main decoration of Paris


At first she took painting lessons from Maurice Denisand then became a student Andre Lotunder the influence of which she formed her own refined, glamorous and moderately avant-garde style. "I decorated Paris no less than the Eiffel Tower"— Lempitska wrote in her diary. And representatives of the Parisian beau monde wanted their living rooms to adorn the portraits of the fashionable "salon Cubist" brush. Tamara famously beat 50 thousand francs for them (about 20 thousand dollars in the current equivalent), and the record on the waiting list was kept for six months in advance.

While the career of the artist and her fame grew exponentially, the marriage finally went to the bottom. Tadeusz, unable to bear his wife’s dizzying novels, fled to Warsaw and filed a divorce. Tamara, though, mourned a ruined family, but not for long: a new promising suitor was on the horizon.

Hungarian Baron Raul Kuffner appeared in the workshop of Lempitskaya together with his exotic passion, Andalusian dancer Nana Herrera, to order her portrait to the artist. Tamara behaved like an upscale bitch, forcing the model to sit almost naked for hours while she took a bath, and wrote it almost caricature, so that Raoul quickly lost interest in the dancer.

At first, Lempicka did not take the Baron’s courtship seriously, referring to her employment. But in the end she realizes the profitability of the party and in 1934 accepts his offer of a hand and heart. "My first husband was very beautiful. The second had a character "— sums up Tamara.

In the New World


Soon in Europe alarming winds set in motion — harbingers of the Second World War. Lempicka, taught by bitter experience, persuades Raoul to sell his family property in Hungary, to hide money in Swiss banks and go overseas, away from the unrest.

There she had to light her star on a new one. At first she managed it well: Tamara drove her acquaintance with the stars of Hollywood, who willingly ordered her portraits to her. But Lempitskaya, who always had her hand on the pulse of time, failed to adapt to the new trends of the American 1940s. She was still called to social events, but in a new capacity — an eccentric artist, a "baroness with a brush", the author of "funny pictures".

Lempicka tried to reinvent her style by trying to get a hand in surrealism, but this time her instinct and talent changed her (1, 2). When in 1943 she and Kuffner moved to New York, the local art critics greeted her very coolly. Tamara continued to work hard, despite the fact that trendy pop art and abstract art never submitted to her hand.

In 1962, Baron Kuffner died of a heart attack. And then Lempitska remembered her daughter Kizett, whom she had once placed in the care of her mother, because she was tired of giving her off as her younger sister. The artist moved to her in Houston, where she lived for several years, until a new love brought Tamara to Mexico.

Risen from the ashes


This amazing woman in her 76 years managed to once again win the heart of a man. Mexican sculptor Victor Contreras courageously endured the whims of his sweetheart, who was twice his age and did not want to put up with old age advancing on the throat. He had to get rid of all the mirrors in the house, since a collision with them could turn into a long-lasting hysteria for the artist.

In the end, Tamara returned to her daughter and continued to harass her until her death. According to the last will of Lempitskaya — as eccentric as her whole life — her ashes were scattered over the volcano Popocatepetl in Mexico.

Interest in the work of Tamara Lempitskaya began to revive during his lifetime: first, after the anniversary exhibition in Paris in 1966, and then unexpected success was expected by the exposition in Luxembourg in 1972. The artist even began to receive orders for replicas of her iconic paintings like "Self-portrait in green Bugatti" or "The Beautiful Raphael", but her hand was no longer so confident, and her eyes also failed.

But today Lempitskaya belongs to the most successful artists of the 20th century, whose paintings are kept in the best galleries in the world and in total have already brought more than 100 million dollars at auction. She became the feminine art symbol of her era, and among the admirers and collectors of paintings by the artist Tamara Lempitskaya are such famous personalities as Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson and Madonna.

The author: Natalia Azarenko
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Tamara Lempicka. Carafe
Tamara Lempicka. Workshop door
Tamara Lempicka. Female portrait
Tamara Lempicka. Earth
Tamara Lempicka. Madonna
Tamara Lempicka. Abstract composition
Tamara Lempicka. Bouquet of violets
Tamara Lempicka. In the opera
Tamara Lempicka. Vase with Flowers
Tamara Lempicka. Gabriela in a pink cape
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Tamara Lempicka. Fruit in the bowl
Fruit in the bowl
Tamara Lempicka
1963, 40×50 cm
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Artworks by the artist
149 artworks total
1929, 115.9×73 cm
1928, 35×27 cm
1931, 51×53 cm
1925, 146×89 cm
View 150 artworks by the artist