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New York: “The Many Faces of Tamara de Lempicka”

October 11, 2019 - November 1, 2019

Tamara de Lempicka exhibition


The Kosciuszko Foundation is pleased to announce the launching of a new cultural initiative, Kosciuszko Projects, and its first exhibit: The Many Faces of Tamara de Lempicka. A selection of a dozen works from different periods, as well as memorabilia belonging to the artist and archival materials will be presented to the New York public for the first time in nearly eighty years.

This intimate exhibit presents a glimpse into the “de Lempicka phenomenon” as it has come to be known since her critical re-evaluation began in 1973.

Art works that were especially significant to de Lempicka personally, as well as some of her treasured memorabilia which she safeguarded through revolution, two wars and six residences will serve as clues to the mystery of her personality. Photographs of de Lempicka and her spectacular Paris and New York apartments taken by renowned photographers present how she created her star status among collectors.

Internationally known as an Art Deco Diva and Queen of the Modern Tamara de Lempicka is identified with her luminous nudes and portraits of the wealthy and beautiful, particularly her self- portrait, “Tamara in the Green Bugatti.”

As a figurative painter at a time when the avant-garde was deconstructing form, she used precise draftsmanship and technical skill in the manner of the Dutch and Italian Renaissance masters. Fully infused with the context of modernity in her Paris of the Roaring 1920’s, she blended this classicism with the aesthetic of graphic art, photography and cinema. Her “Bella Rafaela” was dubbed “the nude of the century.”

De Lempicka is one of the first generally recognized female artists and her artistic language and independence continue to inspire new generations today, and they are (re)discovering her oeuvre in the era of Instagram and Social Media.

Tamara de Lempicka was born Tamara Rosalia Gurwik- Gorska on May 16, 1898 in Warsaw, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) into a wealthy and cultured family. She spent much of her childhood in Switzerland and Italy, where she was influenced by the works of the Renaissance and Mannerist masters. Living in St. Petersburg during the 1917 Russian Revolution, she and her husband Tadeusz Lempicki fled to France to escape the Bolsheviks. To earn a living in Paris, she determined that she would be a painter at the suggestion of her sister, the architect Adrienne Gorska. She briefly studied under Andre Lhote and Maurice Denis. Her breakthrough occurred when she was offered a show at the Bottega di Poesia in Milan in 1925, where she showed about thirty works and which became a sensational success. She first exhibited with the masculine pseudonym T. Lempitzki, and others but then settled on de Lempicka when she felt more secure in her position as a well-regarded female artist. In 1939 Tamara and her new Jewish Hungarian husband Baron Raoul Kuffner emigrated to Hollywood and then New York. She never stopped painting, but the somber world situation affected her tremendously and her subject matter reveals that mood. Upon Kuffner’s death she moved to Houston, Texas where her daughter Kizette was living and then in the 70’s to Mexico. She died in Cuernavaca on March 18, 1980.

Her works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Musée National d’Art Moderne and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C.; and The Muzeum Narodowe in Warsaw among others, as well as in numerous private collections.