Monday, October 14, 2019

TAMARA DE LEMPICKA: Painter Extraordinaire By Polly Guerin

Self-Portrait Tamara De Lempicka  driving Bugatti
TAMARA DE LEMPICKA: Russian Revolution refugee, bohemian, socialite, and classic beauty--- she sped forward into the limelight as a painter extraordinaire in the Art Deco era, the age of modernity.
          Her stunning Auto-Portrait featured on the cover of the German fashion magazine, Die Dame featured Tamara in her green Bugatti, wearing a chic helmet, her glove hand on the steering wheel driving forward as a free, independent woman paving the route for women of the century to follow in her footsteps. Tamara possessed a persona and beauty that rivaled Hollywood stars, but her reputation as an Art Deco painter is legendary,  Interest in Tamara paintings are re-discovered and sort after by the art world cognoscenti.
         ****Tamara Lempicka is in the limelight at the The Kosciuszco Foundation with her famous portraits on display at 15 East 65th Street, opening  October 16th. Free admission.****
          Tamara was born into a wealthy and prominent Polish family. Born on May 16, 1898, she was named Maria, and later in life adapted the name Tamara. He mother, the former Malvina Decler was a Polish socialite and her father Boris- Gurvik-Gorski was a Polish lawyer. Adhering to the custom of the aristocracy, at the time, she was sent off to a Swiss boarding school . However, her first exposure to the Great Masters of Italian painting came when she fortuitously spent the winter of 1911 with her grandmother in Italy. Her parents divorce in 1912 and moving still further Tamara went to live with her wealthy Aunt Stefa in St. Petersburg.
       Tamara by then was quite a beauty and at the age of fifteen she set her sights on marrying
the man of her dreams and abetted by her well-connected Uncle she married Tadeusz Lempicka
in St.  Petersburg. Rumor circled that this bon vivant, ladies man, probably was seduced by
Tamara's significant dowry.
      Their privileged lifestyle cane to a startling end during the RUSSIAN REVOLUTION in
1917, when Tadeusz was arrested by the Bolsheviks. Escaping to Paris, the Lempickas lived for
a while from the sale of her family jewels. While Tadeusz seemed unable or unwilling to find
work Tamara literally became the breadwinner. Paris the city of light and haven for artistic venues was the ideal place for Tamara's artistic development. It was also at this time that Tamara gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Kizette. who was sent off to a boarding school while Tamara studied and improved upon her oeuvre. 
       
Tamara developed a technique that exemplified the Art Deco era. Her lines had an architectural quality that was sleek, clean and elegant, yet had a certain curvilinear softness, which was described as "soft cubism"  Through her aristocratic connections she produced numerous portraits and the Lempickas lifestyle improved significantly.  During the Roaring 20s Tamara was a recognized celebrity.  She knew the best of the Bohemians from Pablo Picasso to Jean Cocteau and her legendary reputation became the topic among the gossip mongers.            Tadeusz andTamara divorced in 1928, and it was perfect timing because a long time patron, Baron Raoul Kuffner commissioned a portrait of his mistress, but true to her winsome ways Tamara replaced the mistress when the portrait was finished. 
       Through Kuffner, who she married in 1923, Tamara was re-established on the high society of the era.  The Depression did not seem to curtail her prolific output and her painting continued its popular course of commissions. And yet, there is more opportunity when the Kuffner's settled in Beverly Hills, California and they began to socialize with the Hollywood stars of the day. She became known as the "Baroness with the Brush," and cultivated a Garboesque persona, which was not so difficult to do because Tamara was still a blonde beauty and was often compared to the legendary star.
      
The Glamorous Tamara de Lempicka
However, her trademark style of angularity in figures of celebs and
aristocrats
in streamlined poses were beginning to become less popular, so Tamara turned to palette painting but this technique never took off.  We remember best the grand scale and prolific renderings of paintings in magnificent color with nuances so realistic, yet so mesmerizing, that forever made her one of
the most revered painters of her time.
        She retired from painting in 1962 and after Baron Kuffner's death, the same year. Tamara traveled extensively, the lived with her daughter Kizette for a while in Houston, Texas.
She finally moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in 1978 where she died in her sleep.
       Ta TA Darlings!!! You have a chance in a lifetime to see the extraordinary talent of Tamara Lempicka at the Kosciuszco Foundation and revel in her whirlwind career in paintings that are mesmerizing and modern.  Fan mail to: pollytalkfromnyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.        

Monday, October 7, 2019

SARGENT, VERDI, GUERCINO Exhibits at THE MORGAN: Review By Polly Guerin

Mrs. George Swenton 1906
"Good Things come in threes," so they say, and with the start of autumn THE MORGAN LIBRARY and MUSEUM introduces three exceptional exhibitions to delight your cultural inquiry.
       While John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is best known for his powerful paintings, The Morgan presents JOHN SINGER SARGENT: PORTRAITS IN CHARCOAL through January 12, 2020. This is a rare and insightful opportunity to see the first major exhibition to explore over 50 of these expressive portraits in charcoal. Sargent changed his oeuvre in 1907 when he largely ceased painting portraits and turned instead to charcoal to satisfy portrait commissions. His technique took a mere three hours, sometimes less, and in that short time through the mastery of chiaroscuro he animated his sitters on canvas. Then, too, he captured in charcoal the flimsiest of fabrics, sun kissed highlights in a coiffure or a shimmering satin gown, which gave female sitters elegance and facial features revealed their personality
      Sargent was a master craftsman in the charcoal genre and many of his sitters were famous for their roles in politics, society, the arts, theater, writers, patrons and  very often valued  friends including the author Henry James, who had championed the young Sargent's work. His striking charcoal drawing of Ethel Barrymore resonated with a powerful presence. Often set against a dramatic dark background, his charcoal portraits---they number 750 in total--are vivid portrayals of the men and women who sat for hm. The finished charcoal portraits are valuable testaments to Sargent's prodigious skill as an artist and draftsman, and reflect the social and cultural fabric of the United Statesand Great Britain in the early twentieth century.
       Concurrently the exhibition VERDI:CREATING OTELLO AND FALSTAFF---HIGHLIGHTS FROM MILAN'S FAMED RECORDI ARCHIVE MAKE U.S. DEBUT, is on view through January 5, 2020. It is astonishing to learn that except for occasional projects Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Italy's pre-eminent composer, retired from Opera at the age of 58. However,
the opera world did not agree. With constant pleas from his publisher and future librettist for the maestro to return to the opera stage, reluctantly Verdi was coaxed out of retirement and composed what would become the crowning achievements of his career. Otello premiered in 1887, and Falstaff in 1893. The Morgan Library and Museum offers visitors a rare opportunity to view insight into the production of these two operas, as well as the complex enterprise of bringing an opera to life.  Highlights from the Ricordi Archive traces the genesis and realization of Otello and Falstaff through original scores, libretti, selected correspondence, set and costume design, and more, marking the first exhibition of these rare documents and artifacts in the United States.
     
Otello and Falstaff Costumes on Display from Milan's Teatro alla Scala
The Ricordi Archive is regarded as one of the world's foremost privately owned music collections. In this exhibition, treasures from the Archive are complemented by rarities from the Morgan's collection, including early editions of texts by William Shakespeare, whose dramaturgical material served as a basis for Verdi's last two operas. In addition to rare editions of scores and libretti, contemporary publicity material include
an autograph letter from Verdi's wife, and autograph sketches for Otello. Set designs, costumes from Milan's Teatro alla Scala, autographed manuscripts, contracts, publications, publicity and video excerpts from recent productions provide entertaining viewing, even if your are not an opera lover. This exhibit makes it perfectly clear that Grand Opera exhibited here enables visitors to experience the tremendous collaborative efforts behind operatic productions. 
      GUERCINO: VIRTUOSO DRAFTSMAN: The Morgan Celebrates the most diverse draftsman
of the Italian Baroque Era through February 2, 2020.  Who was Gercino? Giovanni Francesco Barbierei (1591-1666), known as GUERCINO, was arguably the most the most interesting and
diverse draftsman of the Italian Baroque era, a natural virtuoso who created brilliant drawings in a broad range of media.Supreme examples of virtually every type of drawing, produced in seventeenth century Italy survive from his hand: academic nudes, genre scenes and caricatures, energetic and fluid pen sketches for figures and compositions, highly refined chalk drawings, designs for engravings, and diverse landscapes. To say that Guercino was prolific only tells a
small part of his celebrity. The Morgan owns more than thirty-five works by the artist, and these are the subject of a focused exhibition, supplemented by a pair of loans from New York private
collections. 
For a complete list of related prgrams: www.themorgan.org.          
GUERCINO: Vision of St. Philip Neri (1646-47) pen and brwon wash.

 IMAGE LEFT: The Morgan Library and Museum, gift of Janos Scholz, 1977.
         TA TA DARLINGS!!! Cultural news comes in three wonderful exhibits at the Morgan, not to be missed.
So make it a day visit and take lunch or tea in the Morgan Cafe.  Fan mail welcome, please send an email to: pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Do visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column with direct links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian, and poetry.