The Musician by Tamara de Lempicka

Art and design of the Jazz Age epitomized the glamour of the era. Bold color, shimmery metallics, and an emphasis on the progress of technology were common tropes. Tamara de Lempicka was pivotal in translating the Art Deco style, most prominently seen in furniture and product design, into painting. For de Lempicka, the glamour of Art Deco was inherent to her life. And what a life she had! A series of wealthy husbands allowed her to practice her art as she pleased. During the Second World War, she left Europe for the luxury of Beverly Hills, hoping to become the “favorite artist of the Hollywood stars.” She truly lived the wild, carefree exuberance that is the historical fantasy of the time.

In The Musician, de Lempicka blended classical and modern elements that you find in much of Art Deco’s legacy. The female figure, pictured alone, is reminiscent of classical muses or Renaissance sibyls. Equipped with her instrument, she personifies the art of music as such a woman might in ancient times. But did you notice how de Lempicka was careful to make her a modern woman? It’s an absolutely seamless mix of the old and the new! Sporting a chic flapper coiffure, she finds herself set against an urban landscape. The skyscrapers shown rising behind her indicated a maturation in de Lempicka’s style, as they represent her exposure to the new technological marvels of America.

De Lempicka’s figures’ robust femininity comes from a revived interest in classicism paired with the innovations of Cubist painting. But she enshrined her women in a fashionable femininity that defined the era, and imbued them with a modern sensuality male artists neglected.

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