Sunday, 15 June 2008

Lempicka


Tamara de Lempicka--the Polish bisexual Art Deco painter and refugee from Nazism; born Maria Górska before marrying the adventurer Tadeusz Łempicki; resident of Poland, Russia, Switzerland, France and the US--is one of those painters most people know the work of without necessarily knowing anything of the artist. Her distinctive, somewhat unsettling paintings crop everywhere, and are much used on the covers of books.

Here are six of the many books about her. The woman in the green Bugatti on the first cover is a self-portrait.



Given the era in which she flourished, her work is well suited to decadent (or allegedly decadent) books from the inter-war years...




..and she is much used on the covers to feminist books with a transgressive or sensual/sexual bent..



..as well as sinister stories with strong, morally ambiguous female characters*...



..books by, about and for selfish motherfucking fascists "objectivists"..



..and all sorts of other books.


She gets around.

*In Nabokov's wonderfully black and cruel Laughter in the Dark, the main character marries a young movie starlet. When he is blinded she secretly moves her lover into their house. Said lover then proceeds to creep silently around the house, tormenting the husband, who is never sure if the sounds he hears are real or delusions. Nasty, gripping stuff.

UPDATE: Boktoka pointed me in the direction of another Lempicka cover, this one from Sweden:

6 comments:

John Self said...

Ah yes, those crazy objectivists. Tobias Wolff's novel Old School has a lovely unaffectionate portrait of Randy Ann herself.

JRSM said...

Yes: I loved that book! I wish he'd put out another novel.

John Self said...

Don't hold your breath. I am however currently enjoying his new and selected stories, Our Story Begins, which will do to be going on with.

JRSM said...

How many 'new' stories are in it? Copies haven't yet turned up in Australia, and I've been wondering how much I've already got since I have all of his other books.

I hate it when publishers do this: Lorrie Moore's new collection only had three new stories, which I was fortunately able to download from the New Yorker website, which saved me from spending 20 quid on a book I already had most of the text of.

Boktoka said...

One of her paintings on a swedish book.

http://www.wwd.se/Bocker/Bokpresentationssida/?isbn=9789146219866

JRSM said...

Thank you for that--I'll add it to the post.