Tamara de Lempicka: How Her Art Deco Works Embodied the Roaring Twenties
Google commemorated the life of artist Tamara de Lempicka on Wednesday with a doodle on what would have been her 120th birthday. Born in Warsaw in 1898, Lempicka captured the spirit of the “Roaring Twenties,” while her work exemplified the Art Deco movement.
After fleeing Russia for Paris in the midst of the October Revolution, Lempicka thrived in a world of hedonism and sexual freedom, painting the larger-than-life characters of her new world. One of her most famous works, “Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti),” showed the artist sitting confidently behind the wheel of an elegant car — a portrait that exemplified a strong, female agency that was emerging in the 1920’s. Culture.pl suggests the piece is “a nod to the Futurism movement, characterized by its fascination with speed, technology, and urban life.” Her paintings of aristocrats and nudes employed Cubist influences mixed with neoclassical style, and the artist claimed that her success came from the fact that “among a hundred canvases, mine were always recognizable.” By the time she was 28, Lempicka was a millionaire. She used her work to fund a lavish lifestyle and is said to have taken regular breaks for champagne during her working day.
“Few artists embodied the exuberant roaring twenties more than Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka,” doodle creator Matthew Cruickshank said in a statement. “Her fast paced, opulent lifestyle manifests itself perfectly into the stylized Art-Deco subjects she celebrated in her paintings. I chose to place a portrait of Lempicka in my design with accompanying motifs evocative of the roaring ‘20s and ‘30s. It’s no easy feat to recreate any artists’ work — but I hope to have done so here.”
Lempicka’s influence was global and long-lasting. Japan Times described her as “very much the Lady Gaga of her day: a stand out celebrity who fascinated and repelled in equal measure.” Madonna is a noted fan, claiming in 1990 to have “a Lempicka museum,” and has employed her paintings in music videos for “Open Your Heart” and “Vogue.” Jack Nicholson and Barbara Streisand are also known fans of the artist.
Lempicka summed up her approach to life — and art — in her own words: “I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe.”