Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tamara de Lempicka Where Have You Been All My Life?

I make absolutely no pretence to be educated, especially about the world of art, art history, but do consider myself to be widely read on the subject-if by widely read having perused hundreds of glossy art books and having run an art gallery which  meant having to thumb through commercial print catalogues.

I have been  privileged to have travelled a fair bit, and consequently, have been able to visit many of the major galleries and museums in New York, Los Angeles, London, and most recently  the Leopold Museum in Vienna.  These travels have allowed for surprising  finds like an exhibition at the Surf Hotel in New Caledonia which included a wonderful sketch by Foujita of the artist and his cat.

Yet for all that I get, from time, to time, doubly rocked back on my heels by "discovering" an artist who I find utterly amazing which also reinforces, just when I feel I have reached a level of comfort, that I am woefully ignorant, if there are artists of this quality of which I know nothing.

The last such discovery was Dorothea Tanning who in a way I wish I hadn't discovered as her surreal art is totally unsettling, a comment I am sure she would have been delighted with. But my latest discovery, which discovery is, I appreciate, totally idiosyncratic, an artist with a much lighter view of life-in fact extraordinarily so.

Tamara de Lempcika seems to have led a life straight out of a Hollywood fantasy, with multiple marriages, high society, bi-sexuality and heaven knows what else mixed in, over a long life filled with adventures of myriad sorts. A glance at her photograph says it all actually, but it is her art which I find even more fascinating.

Her style is totally redolent of the jazz age, Cubism, art deco "streamlining', high society, fantasy. I find the movement, the ribboned effect the bright colours, the women (with the homosexual themes so obvious) fascinating and charmingly executed. There is a gallery of some of her works here and these are some of my favorites. If readers have not discovered  de Lempicka I am delighted to have been able to introduce her-I am just sorry I have met her so late in life.

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