Tamara de Lempicka

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Sławomir Micek : bronze bust of Tamara Łempicka in Kielce , Poland

Tamara de Lempicka (born May 16, 1898 in Warsaw , Poland as Maria Rozalia Gurwik-Górska ; † March 18, 1980 in Cuernavaca , Mexico ) was a Polish Art Deco painter . She is one of the few artists of the era who is known to a wider audience and is considered the face of Art Deco painting.

life and work

Lempicka's father was a Russian patron of the Jewish faith, her Catholic mother came from a wealthy and influential Polish family. After her parents divorced, she grew up mainly in her grandparents' house in Warsaw, where prominent guests such as Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Artur Rubinstein were regularly received. On the other hand, she spent her summer holidays in Lausanne every year from 1907 . Her contact with Renaissance painting on a trip to Florence in 1911 was ultimately decisive for her later artistic development .

In 1916 she married the Polish lawyer Tadeusz Julian Łempicki (1888–1951) in Saint Petersburg , where she lived from then on. After the October Revolution of 1917, her husband, a close relative of Cyprian Kamil Norwid , was arrested by the Russian military. Tamara fled to Copenhagen . Her husband followed her after he was released. They went to Paris together in 1918 . Her daughter Kizette was born here in 1920. Since her husband was unable to find a suitable job, Lempicka decided to earn a living by painting. She continued her art studies, which she had started in Saint Petersburg, and became a student of Maurice Denis and André Lhote .

When, in 1925, the Exposition internationale des Arts Décoratifs et industriels moderne, the first Art Deco exhibition that gave the term its name, took place, Lempicka was represented with a few pictures and aroused the interest of a broad audience for the first time. Within a short time she became one of the most sought-after artists of her time, who - like few women in art - was earning a lot of money by the standards of the time. Her pictures combine cool objectivity, reminiscent of Renaissance pictures, with sensual expression. She presented herself as a diva down to the last detail , had a number of affairs and moved into an apartment in Paris ( 7 rue Méchain ) furnished by the architect of the house, Robert Mallet-Stevens , which served her as a salon, apartment and studio.

Lempicka perverse mainly glitterati -Kreisen. In 1928 she divorced her husband. In the early days of National Socialism in 1934, she married the Hungarian widowed industrialist Raoul Baron Kuffner de Diószegh (1886–1961) on a sea voyage . The baron came from an ennobled Jewish family, was born in Vienna and had a considerable fortune in Hungary.

In the mid-1930s Lempicka suffered from depression and her work dried up. In 1939 the Lempicka-Kuffner family stayed in the USA after a vacation , according to the official version. In fact, the move had been planned well in advance, her husband secretly had his property in Hungary cleared and brought antiques and valuables to the USA. Long before the outbreak of World War II , his far-sighted wife had convinced him to sell his most important Hungarian possessions and place the money in Switzerland .

Lempicka initially lived in Los Angeles , later moved to New York . Until 1974 she lived in Houston , near her daughter Kizette Foxhall. Then she moved to Mexico .

From the 1950s, when abstract painting finally caught on, the Art Deco artist became silent. Although she also tried abstract painting, she was unable to build on her successes from the heyday of Art Deco. It was only towards the end of the 1960s that there was renewed interest in her works. In 1980 Lempicka died in Cuernavaca. Their ashes were scattered over the Popocatépetl .

The biographical key data and genealogical information about Lempicka and her first husband are often contradicting in the literature. Her birth name is sometimes Gurwic-Gurska , in Poland she is known as Tamara Łempicka and it is also unclear whether she was born in Warsaw, Saint Petersburg or even Moscow . The marriage with Baron Kuffner is said to have taken place on February 3, 1934 in Zurich . She lived separately from her first husband, Tadeusz Julian Łempicki, who is said to have been the Polish consul general in Toulouse from 1947 to 1950 . He is said to have died in Warsaw in 1951 under unknown circumstances.

Works (selection)

  • Portrait of the Marquis Sommi , 1925
  • Portrait of Prince Eristoff , 1925
  • Portrait of the Duchess de la Salle , 1925
  • The orange scarf , 1927
  • Kizette in Pink , 1927
  • The beautiful Rafaela , 1927
  • Spring , 1928
  • Unfinished Portrait of a Man (Tadeusz de Lempicki), 1928
  • Tamara in the green Bugatti , 1929
  • Young girl in green (also: Young girl with gloves ), 61.5 × 45.5 cm, oil on plywood, 1927–1930; Center Pompidou, Musée, Level 5, Salle 20: Art Déco, Paris
  • St. Moritz , 1929
  • Portrait of Dr. Boucard , 1929
  • The green turban , 1930
  • Dormeuse , 1934
  • Mother Superior , 1939


  • Ellen Thormann: De Lempicka, Tamara . In: General Artist Lexicon . The visual artists of all times and peoples (AKL). Volume 25, Saur, Munich a. a. 2000, ISBN 3-598-22765-5 , p. 426 f.
  • Tamara de Lempicka. In: Norbert Wolf : Art Deco. Prestel Verlag, Munich 2013; Pp. 227-236. ISBN 978-3-7913-4763-9 .
  • Laura Claridge: Tamara de Lempicka. A life for decor and decadence. Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16940-2
  • Stefanie Penck: Tamara de Lempicka . Prestel Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-7913-3170-6 (Flexo).
  • Gilles Neret: Tamara de Lempicka 1898–1980. Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-8228-6593-1
  • Georg Gaugusch : The Kuffner family. In: Adler - Zeitschrift für Genealogie und Heraldik 20th (XXXIV.) Volume (1999–2000), pp. 243–251.
  • Ellen Thormann: Tamara de Lempicka. Art criticism and artists in Paris , Reimer, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-496-01109-2 (also dissertation University of Hamburg 1989).
  • Baroness Kizette de Lempicka-Foxhall. Charles L. Phillips: Passion by Design - The Art and Times of Tamara de Lempicka . Abbeville Press: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich, 1987. ISBN 978-0-7892-0503-2

Web links

Commons : Tamara de Lempicka  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Anne Commire (ed.): Women in World History. Yorkin Publications, 2001
  2. Padnie rekord za odnaleziony obraz Łempickiej? In: tvn24.pl. March 26, 2012, Retrieved September 29, 2019 (Polish).
  3. Tamara de Lempicka - 78 paintings - WikiArt.org. In: Wikiart.org. Retrieved September 29, 2019 .
  4. Tamara de Lempicka - artnet. In: Artnet.com. Retrieved May 15, 2018 .
  5. Tamara de Lempicka. In: Norbert Wolf : Art Deco. Prestel Verlag, Munich 2013; P. 227. ISBN 978-3-7913-4763-9 .
  6. Jump up ↑ Wasmuths monthly books for architecture, vol. 16, Berlin 1932, pp. 347-350 and 445-447.
  7. Laura Claridge: Tamara de Lempicka. A life for decor and decadence. Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-596-16940-2