Known as the diva of Deco art, Tamara de Lempicka became famous worldwide for her sophisticated nude and portrait paintings that depict the spirit of the modern art with a Classical touch. The artist proclaimed herself as living in the margin of society, meaning she didn’t see that she had to obey the conventional rules of society. Born in Warsaw, the capital of Poland on May 16th, 1898 in a bourgeois family, by the name of Maria Górska. She worked with art through the 1920s and 1930s, living abroad in places like France and the United States. The pop singer Madonna was profoundly influenced by Lempicka’s work and owns a great collection of her artwork.
In 1917, Lempicka was recently married to Tadeusz Lempicki, a solicitor, and they lived together in St. Petersburg. On December of that year, her husband was arrested by the Soviet secret police called Cheka. After the Russian Revolution, the couple found refuge in Paris. While living abroad and with a newborn daughter named Kizette, Lempicka was encouraged by her family to begin a career as a painter – since she and Tadeusz were experiencing financial difficulties. The artist began her journey at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière, being tutored by André Lhote, who had a significant influence on her work, as well as Maurice Chaumière.
It was in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts of 1925 that the artist would have her first breakthrough in the art world, starting to receive international attention. This exhibit was a World’s fair, meaning that Paris would gather the best of modern art and design from around the world in one place. She received a first-place prize only two years later in Bordeaux, France at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux-Arts – her first major award. The prized work was a portrait of her daughter entitled Kizette on the Balcony, with strong Cubist influence blended with the sophistication of the Deco Art. Lempicka knew Pablo Picasso personally, attributing to her inspiration.
The artist caused quite a shock for conservatives of the time, as she embodied a somewhat radical form of the modern woman, many times considered scandalous for being openly bisexual and living a bohemian life. Lempicka became famous amongst wealthy aristocrats, who commissioned portraits, as well as stylized nudes – mostly of women. Although her style was very modern, she was inspired by the portrayal of women of the Renaissance art. The painter would sometime use elements of the Surrealism, like in Key and Hand. The way Lempicka joined her diverse influences of Classic and Modern art, creating beautiful nudes from a female perspective, but with an abstract environment makes her work truly unique. She was indeed one of the best Deco artists of the Modern times.