Tamara de Lempicka, more popularly known as Tamara Lempicka, was a Polish painter who lived from the late 1920's until her death in 1996. She was a renowned portraitist who worked for prestigious companies including Rothko, Hockney and others. She is perhaps most famous for her finely rendered Art Nouveau portraits of the rich and famous, and for her heavily stylized paintings of nude nudes.
Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1917, Tamas de Lempicka earned a degree in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1931, she settled in the New York City, where she worked for the prestigious Rothko Studio for many years before retiring in 1960.
Her work, particularly in the late 1930s and 1940s, displays a remarkable skill for bringing together modern art with traditional styles, such as those of eighteenth century art. Although the style of her Art Nouveau paintings are somewhat different from those of the likes of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Edvard Munch, Renoir, or Max Ernst, their main concern remains an attention to the human form. This creates an impression of realism that is often called “Nouveau Rhetoric.” Her work, particularly in the Nude series, is highly stylized and highly abstract, with elements that evoke a sense of reality but which are also highly abstract in nature.
Tamara de Lempicka's best known work, however, is her famous Nude series, which she produced between the late 1930s and the 1950s. Her portraits of women in the nude, some of them extremely well-known, can be seen on everything from furniture to canvas to wall murals and other public places. It was not only the Nude series that became so popular; even a smaller scale of her work, the Nudes series of painting and prints, can be found widely distributed today throughout the world. The best known examples of the series are the “Chicks” series (1939-1940), “Nudes” by Tamara de Lempicka and Others (1952), “Nudes” by Tamara de Lempicka and Others – Second Series (1955), and the “Nudes” by Tamara De Lempicka and Others – Third Series (1970).
Although some of Tamara's work has had significant success in the United States, it is hard to pin down exactly what has been the most popular. The most famous pieces in this series, the “Chicks,” have always enjoyed the largest and most devoted following, while “Nudes,” especially in later years, have found widespread success throughout the world as reproductions, collages, wall hangings and more.
It is difficult to understand why, if anything, the reputation of the Nudes series has declined. Some believe that perhaps the series is no longer very popular simply because the paintings no longer depict women in their natural state, although it would be surprising if this were the case. But there is no question that Tamara was a skilled artist and that her style and subject matter remained popular well into the 1960's, the years that most of her work was produced.
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