Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tamara de Lempicka, the Glamour Queen with a Paintbrush: "Among a Hundred Paintings, You Could Recognize Mine." You tell 'em, girl.

Tamara de Lempicka is my favorite painter. In the 1920s and 30s, she painted glamorous, larger-than life women who dominate the canvas like hulking goddesses, arms akimbo, dresses shimmering, and eyes glowering like five star generals. They embody extremes of masculinity and femininity at once. They're like the heavenly host: They're not pretty, but they're radiant. They're a little scary, but they're breathtaking. Look!
"Eye contact? Please."   *
"Yes, I look good in pink. Now put more bonbons in my hand, Jacques." *
Best of all, she took all the geometric goodness of Cubism and softened it, making it more beautiful and less jarring. Her subjects look like faceted jewels brought to life. A reviewer at The Economist says, "The texture is metallic as much as celluloid, conjuring up the sleek gleam of cars in the age of speed." As pretentious as that sounds, it's spot-on. Tamara de Lempicka's work is the epitome of Art Deco fabulousness, and I absolutely adore it. 

"First, I'll play the lute. And then I'll play you." *
"We're better than everyone else. Don't tell." *
She didn't paint men as often, but when she did, they showed the same mix of masculinity and femininity. They often fill the canvas, just like the female subjects, and their shoulders are cartoonishly  massive. But they're often twisted like a fashion model, or submissive, or come-hither sexy in a way that we usually only see from female subjects appealing to a male gaze.
Doctor Boucard wants you to know he has monstrous shoulders and a tiny waist. His Atkins diet is working quite well, thank you. *
Let's call him Shoulders. Poor, submissive Shoulders! He's sad because he has no neck. *
The Marquis d'Afflito is going to woo you with sexyface. Are you wooed yet? Oh. How about now?
Also, if he lets go of his knee, it will fall off. True story. *
Humphrey Bogart is really, really sad that he won't win an Oscar until 1951. *
She rarely painted still lifes, but when she did, they had that look that makes them unmistakably hers.
Okay, it's great that I have a favorite artist. But you're probably thinking Um, why is Jen telling me this?! Because I recently walked into Grace's Plaza and saw two GIGANTIC copies of Tamara de Lempicka's work on the wall! I stopped dead in my tracks, and then started hopping around like a kid on Christmas day. There were TWO OF THEM! They're decor left over from some long-past Swan Ball*, and they're both FOR SALE!

There's just one problem: They're each at least ten feet high. There's no chance they'd ever fit in my house. Heck, they probably wouldn't even fit through my front door. The tiny card hanging to the left of the green painting is the size of my hand. Does that give you an idea of this painting's massiveness?


Don't YOU want them, though? I want you to have them. 
Buy them so I can come say hi to you and look at them more. Please? :D

*For those of you who aren't from Nashville, the Swan Ball is where Nashville's oldest money goes once a year to dance and bid on items like African safaris, trips to New Zealand, and five thousand dollar watches. Al Green has played the Swan Ball. So has Johnny Cash. It's the only legit excuse to wear Valentino gowns in Nashville, and it's kind of a big deal.


  1. Very cool! Love that still life. There was a debut novel that came out last year about Lempicka's life and relationship with one of her muses that was quite good -- did you read it?

    1. No, but that sounds exactly like something I'd love to read. Last year I was briefly on a life-stories-turned-novels kick, and I'm surprised I missed that one. Thanks for letting me know about it!

  2. I was previously unfamiliar with the artist. I love the angularity! I will have to check out more of her stuff.

    1. Yay! I'm glad you like her, too.


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