Tamara de Lempicka's 120th Birthday

Courtesy of Google
Tamara de Lempicka’s 120th Birthday

She also incorporated elements of the Roaring Twenties: one of her most famous compositions, Autoportrait (1929), portrays the artist in a sleek green sports vehicle.

Born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1898, Lempicka developed her artistic side on a trip to Italy in 1911, which she took while boarded at a school in Switzerland.

A visitor looks at Tamara de Lempicka's "Portrait de Majorie Ferry" at Sotheby's in NY on May 1, 2009.

At the same time, Tamara's entry into the art world meant she began taking male lovers, like the Marquis Sommi Picenardi and Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio.

She moved to St. Petersburg in Russia and married, but the very next year, the Russian Revolution forced Lempicki and her husband to flee.

The artist's breakthrough came in 1925 when she exhibited paintings at two major venues at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts.

She challenged expectations, and became a fixture of Paris' bohemian art scene.

Lempicka and her husband had a daughter named Kizette, her only child.

Her paintings were appreciated in the 1960s and 1970s even more than they had been when she first unveiled them because of the resurgence of Art Deco.

Along with her colorful depictions of the roaring twenties, Lempicka was a notorious socialite and later took to painting portraits of the wealthy elite in Paris and then America, where she settled with her second husband after escaping war in Europe.

She famously said: "I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don't apply to those who live on the fringe".

Described as a The Baroness with a Brush, Tamara Lempicka is hailed for her distinctive Art Deco style. "Her fast-paced, opulent lifestyle manifests itself perfectly into the stylized Art Deco subjects she celebrated in her paintings".

She said of her style: 'I was the first woman to paint cleanly, and that was the basis of my success. I chose to place a portrait of Lempicka in my design with accompanying motifs evocative of the roaring '20s and '30s.

Baron Raoul Kuffner's wife had died the year before although the artist had become his mistress in 1928.

She was "a bisexual" who "made bold, liberated female sexuality the lynchpin of her art", according to The Art Story.

According to The Guardian, "De Lempicka depicted the shifting morals of a Paris where nothing was precisely what it seemed".

She died in her sleep on March 18, 1980 at the age of 81.

She painted Spain's King Alfonso XIII and Queen Elizabeth of Greece. In the United States, Lempicka drew the interest of Hollywood stars, living in Beverly Hills and NY for a time.

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