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January 15, 2008

Artist I Admire

Artist: Tamara De Lempicka

Growing up a Polish debutante, De Lempicka lived a privileged and sheltered life. She and her family escaped Poland during the Russian Revolution and eventually settled in Paris, where De Lempicka's interest in art, beginning with the Dadaists and Surrealists, took shape. Eventually De Lempicka became known and celebrated for her portraiture, in the school or style that was known as "synthetic cubism." She was the master of this genre. Her subjects, mostly socialites and aristocrats, have a soft, fluid geometry to their forms, and you can actually see how De Lempicka used shapes like cones and cubes to construct and execute her paintings. With the use of flattering, vibrant colors her sitters were always depicted with style and grace, but always with their true character showing through, whether it was just a hint of a snarl or an arrogant smile. De Lempicka was a notorious party-goer, and one of the queens of the art deco society. Unfortunately, De Lempicka's brilliant streak as a celebrity portraitist ended, and she resigned herself in her later years to doing palette-knife impressionist paintings (which failed miserably). I still think she was a brilliant artist, however - a perfect example of the tough, independent glamorous painter.