MAY 16: Tamara Łempicka (1898-1980)

365daysoflesbians:

The bisexual painter, Tamara
Łempicka, was born on this day in 1898. Today, she is most well-known for her
revolutionary contributions to the Art Deco style and her stylized nude portraits.

Tamara’s most famous self-portraits,Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti, circa 1925 (x).

Her birth name was Maria Górska and
she was born on May 16, 1898 in Warsaw, Poland. Her family lived a high class
life, her father being a Russian-Jewish attorney and her mother being a Polish
socialite. Tamara created her very first portrait at just the young age of ten;
her mother had commissioned a local artist to create a portrait of Tamara, but
Tamara was dissatisfied with the finished project and picked up the pastels to
create what she considered a more worthy portrait of her younger sister.

She spent much of her life
travelling around Europe painting and studying art and her first big breakthrough
did not come until 1925 when her work was exhibited at the prestigious International
Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. Spotted by journalists
from the American magazine Harper’s Baazar, Tamara’s polished Art Deco pieces
suddenly became all the rage with fashion magazines. Her highlight in Harper’s
Baazar
led to even greater success, including expositions in both Milan and
Bordeaux. She would win her first major award in 1927, the first prize at the
Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts for her portrait, Kizette on the Balcony.

A 1933 nude portrait of one of Tamara’s female lovers, Suzy Solidor (x).

Throughout her life, Tamara was known
for her promiscuity and had open affairs with both men and women. She was
married to a prominent Polish lawyer, Tadeusz Łempicki, in 1916 and had a
daughter by him soon after, but she would have multiple affairs during the
course of their marriage. In the 1920s, Tamara started a long term affair with
the popular Parisian nightclub singer Suzy Solidor, and as a result, found
herself at the center of Paris’s lesbian circle. Through Suzy, she became
friends with such figures as Violet Trefusis, Vita Sackville-West, and Colette.

Tamara passed away on March 18, 1980. Today,
her work is still considered to be high art and imbued with a sense of wealth. Much of her artwork has been featured in Madonna music videos
and multiple A-List celebrities consider themselves Lempicka collectors, such
as Jack Nicholson and Barbra Streisand.

-LC