Kosciuszko Projects Presents
The Many Faces of Tamara de Lempicka
An Exhibition of de Lempicka's art, documents and memorabilia
Curated by Bartek Remisko
Exhibit Opening: Friday, Oct. 11 - Sunday, Oct. 13, 12 - 6 p.m.
The presentation continues through November 1, 2019
Monday-Friday, 12 - 6 p.m. with the exception of Oct. 14 (Monday).
The Kosciuszko Foundation: 15 E 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
Kosciuszko Projects, a new cultural initiative from The Kosciuszko Foundation, aims to introduce New York to the oeuvre of renowned Polish artists. The first exhibit, The Many Faces of Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), presents a dozen works from different periods of this, probably most internationally recognized, Polish artist. De Lempicka's memorabilia and archival materials are also on display in New York for the first time in nearly sixty years. This intimate exhibit presents a glimpse into what has come to be known as the "de Lempicka phenomenon," since the critical re-evaluation of her work began with a retrospective at the Luxembourg Gallery in Paris in 1972, and investigates the current relevance of her work.
Internationally known as the "Art Deco Diva" and "Queen of Modern," Tamara de Lempicka is identifiable by her luminous nudes and portraits of the wealthy and beautiful. 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 Paris of the Roaring 1920's, she blended this classicism with the aesthetic of graphic art, photography and cinema. However, her later works, which are also on view in the show, include less well known portraits painted in the '40s and the '50s that offer a more complete picture of the artist's oeuvre.
De Lempicka felt so disheartened by the war in Europe—which she had managed to escape—as well as by what happened to and in postwar Poland, that she restricted her subject matter to still life, interiors, and her urban series, as well as madonnas, peasants, and portraits of family members. She seemed to have taken consolation in the precise brush strokes of her beloved Renaissance technique. Some of these works are now on display in New York alongside her Art Deco portraits. The art world saw these subjects as irrelevant and out of fashion when Abstract Expressionism was flourishing, which must surely have contributed, at least in part, to de Lempicka's artistic isolation after the huge success that she enjoyed in Europe in the '20's and '30's.
The works showcased in this first Kosciuszko Project are those which were especially meaningful to de Lempicka personally, along with some of her treasured mementos safeguarded through revolution, two wars and seven residences: Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Paris, Hollywood, New York, Houston, and finally Cuernavaca. They are 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.
Tamara de Lempicka is one of the first widely recognized female artists and her artistic language and independence continue to inspire new generations today, as they are (re)discovering her oeuvre in the era of Social Media, and Instagram in particular. Her role in paving the way for other female artists in the twentieth century seems to be forgotten today but should not be underestimated and deserves attention.
From the Intro by Bartek Remisko, Exhibit Curator - read full text HERE
Foreward by Agnieszka Morawinska, Ph.D., Art Historia, Art Critic, Curator - read HERE
The Foundation expresses its gratitude to Victoria de Lempicka, Marisa de Lempicka and Anne & Richard Paddy, and private collectors who wish to remain anonymous, for making their collections available for presentation to the public and for much valuable assistance in organizing this exhibition. We would also like to thank Andrew Kenda for inspiration, and to Ms. Krystyna Piórkowska, the project's exclusive sponsor.
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 decided to become 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 second husband, Hungarian Jewish 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. At de Lempicka's request, her ashes were scattered over the Popocatépetl volcano.
Important retrospectives that took place after the artist's death were in 1981: Seibu Gallery, Tokyo and Osaka, Japan; in 1994: Accademia di Francia (Villa Medici), Rome Italy and Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal, Canada; in 1997: Hiroshima Museum of Arts, Tokyo-Hiroshima, Japan; in 2004: Royal Academy of Arts, London United Kingdom and Kuntsforum Wien, Vienna, Austria; in 2006: Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy; in 2009: Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City; in 2010: Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo Japan; in 2011: Complesso Vittoriano, Rome Italy; in 2013: Pinacothèque de Paris, France; in 2015: Palazzo Forti, Verona, Italy and Palazzo Chiablese, Turin Italy; in 2017: Seoul Arts Center, South Korea; and most recently in 2018: Palacio Gaviria, Madrid, Spain
Tamara de Lempicka's works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Musée National d'Art Moderne and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C.; the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nantes, and The Muzeum Narodowe in Warsaw among others, as well as in numerous private collections around the world.
Featured visuals (from the top):
Photo of Tamara de Lempicka by CAMUZZI, circa 1934/37 (on the exhibition poster) and by Joffe, circa 1938; from Tamara de Lempicka Estate
Tamara de Lempicka, "Portrait of Kizette Adult I," circa 1954, oil on canvass, Collection Anne & Richard Paddy, USA
Tamara de Lempicka, "Figure de jeune fille," circa 1945, oil on canvas, private collection
Tamara de Lempicka, "Portrait of Baroness Louisanne Kuffner de Dioszegh," (age 15), 1940, oil on canvas, Collection Anne & Richard Paddy, USA
Tamara de Lempicka, "Autoportrait," 1939, Drawing, Collection Anne & Richard Paddy, USA
Download Exhibition booklet HERE