Saturday, May 16, 2015

Birthday: Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)

I discovered this Polish-born Art Deco painter around 2009, which meant that I was way behind Madonna, who had been "a huge fan and collector of her work" for years, according to Wikipedia. (Madonna and I share bio-rhythms, I'll have you know; I was born on August 15, 1958, she was born on August 16, 1958.) Lempicka, who was bisexual and not shy about it, led an interesting life and was on familiar terms with such as Picasso, Gide, O'Keeffe, Colette, de Kooning, and Cocteau. She has an immediately identifiable style as a painter, "clean, precise, and elegant" as the useful Wikipedia entry rightly states. I'll say more: her paintings are hot-- as in, incredibly sexy. Catch this:

It's called Adam and Eve, and it can certainly make you understand how the human race got going. I'm more qualified to speak about the male figure, which is one of the most erotic I've seen in mainstream art, but both are wows. The story goes that Lempicka, in France at the time, was looking for a male model for Adam, and, in her own words (courtesy of Edward Lucie-Smith's excellent Art Deco Painting):

In the street nearby I saw a gendarme, a policeman on his beat. He was young, he was handsome. I said to him: "Monsieur, I am an artist and I need a model for my painting. Would you pose for me?" And he said, "Of course, Madame, I am myself an artist. At what time do you require me?" We made arrangements. He came to my studio after work and said: "How shall I pose?" "In the nude." He took off his things and folded them neatly on a chair, placing his big revolver on the top.

"Big revolver" - my goodness.

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