by John Fountain.
"Among a hundred paintings, you could recognize mine, my goal was: Do not copy. Create a new style,...colors light and bright, return to elegance in my models."
Tamara de Lempicka was not only a brilliant artist, she was also the Madonna or Lady Gaga of her day. Darling of Art Deco movement and the leading portraitist for the 1920's in crowd - she made all the right moves to connect with people in the right places.
Born into aristocracy, her first marriage to a dashing young Moscow attorney was a calculated affair. When the Russian revolution exiled them to Paris, Tamara orchestrated her way into the Parisian social elite and by the middle of the 1920s she was producing portraits of the cool kids of the era.
[caption id="attachment_10363" align="alignright" width="295" caption="Madonna's New York apartment with original De Lempicka"][/caption]
Her lifestyle during the Roaring Twenties was epitomised by the fast and decadent times. Everything about her was high-profile; her affairs (with both men and women), her wild partying, her clothes and cars and important friends. Slavishly devoted to her public image, she neglected her daughter and sent her husband back to Poland to find a more conventional wife.
She became the darling of the Paris Lesbian community and was celebrated across Europe as the prototype for the modern, independent woman.Â When she needed a new spouse, she found herself a Baron. When she escaped Europe on the eve of the Second World War, she and her extravagant lifestyle went straight to Hollywood.
Wrapped up in her bizarre tale of excess and depravity, the story of a very good painter is almost lost.
Yet by the time she died in 1980, under the care of her neglected daughter, she was enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The art world had rediscovered her and her paintings were again commanding high prices. Today her work is highly sought after and Madonna, Jack Nicholson and Barbara Streisand are all collectors of her work. In fact Madonna said in an interview that her desire to own an original De Lempicka painting was what drove her to seek success at the top level.