Google honors Polish Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka, but who was she?


In honor of what would have been Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka’s 120th birthday, the Google doodle team featured cubist- and neoclassical-inspired artwork on its homepage.

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Lempicka, who was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1898, grew up with a love of art, which spanned from Italian Renaissance paintings to the post-cubism work of French painters Maurice Denis and André Lhote.

According to the Google blog, Lempicka found herself  living among the nobility in Russia with her wealthy aunt after her parents divorced.

There, she married her first husband, Tadeusz Lempicki, just before the start of the Russian Revolution.

After moving to Paris as refugees, Lempicka delighted in her grandiose surroundings and began her rendition of late neoclassical and refined cubist art inspired by the avant garde art of the era.

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In 1928, Lempicka divorced Tadeusz and married Baron Raoul Kuffner a few years after Kuffner’s wife died.

Known for her Art Deco tributes to the Roaring Twenties, the Polish artist, who peaked in the 1930s, used bold figures, muted color palettes and unexpected compositions in her glamorous portraiture. In her work, Lempicka would feature the prominent stars and aristocrats around her and developed a penchant for highly-stylized nudes.

During her career, she painted people like Spain’s King Alfonso XIII and Greece’s Queen Elizabeth.

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Some of her iconic works include “Tamara in the Green Bugatti” (a self-portrait) and “La Rêve (Rafaëla Sur Fond Vert).” She eventually earned the nickname, “the Baroness with a Brush.”

“Few artists embodied the exuberant roaring twenties more than than Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka,” doodle illustrator Matthew Cruickshank wrote in the Google blog. “Her fast paced, opulent lifestyle manifests itself perfectly into the stylized Art-Deco subjects she celebrated in her paintings.”

In addition to her unique paintings, Lempicka was also known for bisexuality, often speaking publicly about her affairs with both men and women. She was also openly involved with nightclub singer Suzy Solidor in the 1920s.

“De Lempicka depicted the shifting morals of a Paris where nothing was precisely what it seemed. She lived and worked on the bisexual fringes of a society where there were no rules beyond the demands of style and entertainment,” the Guardian reported in 2004.

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According to The Sun, Lempicka moved to the United States after the outbreak of World War II and lived in Beverly Hills, New York and later, after her second husband’s death in 1961, Houston, Texas. That’s where Lempicka’s only child, a daughter from her first marriage, lived.

She later moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Lempicka died on March 18, 1980. She was 81.


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