Tamara De Lempicka is one of my favourite artists. Yet, I was wondering to myself today, what exactly it was that attracted me to her style and aesthetic. I decided to write down my impressions as I surveyed one of her works which most attracted me – Girl in a Green Dress.
Colour – the vivid hues of the green in the image reminds me of the brightness of the colours that Lempicka uses, an aspect of her art which certainly attracts me. In Girl in a Green Dress, she contrasts the colour with the neutral shade of white in the woman’s gloves and hat and the background to bring a new luminosity to the colour.
Figurative art – De Lempicka concentrates on the human figure which is of endless fascination to me, and she brings a unique stylisation to the figure and the visage. It always connotes hardness and an angular, gauche quality to me, as well as a beautiful simplicity and symmetry. There is a compromise between the geometric and the figurative in each case – the curves of the figure don’t carry as much interest to me as the stark lines.
The fold – I find the folds in the dress and in the hairstyle of the figure immensely exciting. The fold is the unique fingerprint of Lempicka which always allows me to identify her work. Drapery and the investigation of how the cloth falls has been a facet of Western art ever since the ancient Greeks and Lempicka’s signature take on it is fascinating.
The woman – Lempicka’s interpretation of woman, as in this image, is one of the things that draws me to her work. Woman has often been the image and the focus of the gaze, but it is interesting to see Lempicka’s version. Here, the woman has a very strange expression on her face. Expressions are notoriously difficult to interpret and their meanings change quickly over time. I don’t think I will ever be able to work out what Lempicka meant by shaping her face into such a mould, but to me it suggests aggression.