August 15, 2022

Manuel Orazi (1860 – 1934)

Was an Italian painter, draughtsman, illustrator, and poster artist, who elevated a global philosophy in response to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, precisely what we now call the "Art Nouveau" style.

(Orazi, Manuel. Poster for Job Cigarette Paper. c. 1902. lithograph.)

In 1892, he moved to Paris and worked as a newspaper, magazine, and book illustrator, where he illustrated periodicals for L'assiette au beurre and Le Figaro illustre. He also illustrated books by contemporary authors, including Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire, and Oscar Wilde.

(Orazi, Manuel. Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt. c. 1895. lithograph.)

In 1892, he moved to Paris and worked as a newspaper, magazine, and book illustrator, where he illustrated periodicals for L'assiette au beurre and Le Figaro illustre. He also illustrated books by contemporary authors, including Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire, and Oscar Wilde.

(Orazi, Manuel. L'Atlantide. lithograph.)

His poster designs for the opera and other Parisian theaters heightened his fame, and he soon began to exhibit his work at the Salon des Artistes. In 1896, he received the commission of his career to design a poster for a gallery art show initiated in 1895 by the German art dealer Samuel Bing. This show was to be held at the Maison de l'Art Nouveau gallery (which translates to "House of Art") and exclusively featured the most prominent modern art of its time.

(Orazi, Manuel. La Maison Moderne. c. 1902. lithograph.)

The focus of this show was coordinated in design and color installations of modern furniture, tapestries, and objets d'art (which translates to "everyday objects of art"). Objects shown became so strongly associated with the Art Nouveau style that the name of his gallery subsequently provided a commonly used term for the aesthetics of the style and propelled Orazi's career.

(Orazi, Manuel. L'Atlantide. lithograph.)

In 1912, he illustrated the novel Aphrodite by Pierre Louis. After completing the illustrations for the novel Les fleurs dumal by Baudelaire in Paris, he passed away in 1934, leaving a legacy of work inspired by curved lines, nature, natural forms, and the structures of plants or flowers. He embodied the Art Nouveau style and was famous for being a participant in forming these beautiful aesthetics.

August 1, 2022

Tamara De Lempicka (1898 - 1980)

She was independent, opinionated, and attractive. She embraced her feminine sexuality and used it to her best advantage as she charmed her way into some of her time's most prominent art circles of her time. When well-behaved women rarely made history, she would not go unnoticed and eventually collaborated with other famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georgia O'Keeffe.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Jeune Fille Vert. c. 1929.
Oil on canvas. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris.)

She was born in 1898 to a wealthy family in Poland. Her parents divorced when she was thirteen, so she moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, to live with her aunt Sefa. Her mother eventually remarried and sent for her, but having grown up in boarding schools, she was already independent and wanted freedom from the aristocratic family. It was a man's world and an aristocracy at this time in Russia. The only way out for women was to marry.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Autoportrait. c. 1925.
Oil on wood. Private collection.)

When Tamara was only fifteen, she spotted the man of her dreams in the audience at the opera in 1913. Although her groom-to-be was a well-known ladies' man, her hefty dowry appealed to the prominent attorney, and they were married three years later. Sadly, the newlyweds would not find happiness. In 1917, Russia was in chaos.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Femme dans Dentelle.)

The Bolshevik party, made up of the working class, began to revolt against the aristocracy. They broke into their house in the night and arrested Tamara's husband. The Petrograd was overthrown with the Red Army rising. During the October Revolution, she searched the prisons for weeks to find her husband. Once found, she secured his release by flirting with the necessary officials. They, with many other upper-class refugees who managed to escape, fled to Paris.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Les Filles. c. 1928. Oil on canvas.)

The couple did not fare well in financial ruin as refugees. Tamara supported them initially by selling her family jewelry. Her aristocratic husband was unable or reluctant to find a job, while Tamara gave birth to their first and only child, Kizette. The domestic situation put a significant strain on the relationship. Tamara took matters into her own hands and began painting portraits to support them.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Portrait de Madame Boucard. c. 1931.
Oil on canvas. Collection Boucard, Paris.)

At this time in the 1920s, Paris evolved as the epicenter of the bohemian lifestyle, embracing creativity, diversity, decadence, and extravagance. In this hot spot of expressive society, Tamara became fascinated with the idea of seduction and the effects of desire. She started to paint from live nudes, which was unheard of for any female during this time.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Kizette Sleeping. c. 1934.)

Tamara began spending more time in the studio than at home to support the family and developed a busy social life to earn commissions. She publically associated with the novelist Violet Trefusis, most notable for her openly gay love affair with Vita Sackville-West, and with the scandalous French novelist and former actress Colette, also known for her famous lesbian kiss on the stage of the Moulin Rouge, which nearly caused a riot at the time. The police were called in to suppress the public.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Printemps. c. 1928. Private collection.)

Collaboration with Picasso and Braque heavily influenced her toward "soft cubism," but eventually, she intentionally developed her own signature style. Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Tamara painted the openly gay French singer and actress Suzy Solidor at different times. In Tarama's case, they eventually became romantically involved with each other.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Suzy Solidor. c. 1933. Oil on wood.)

Frustrated by Tamara's rumored sex life, her husband abandoned her. They divorced in 1928. With her newfound freedom, she soon became obsessed with her work and her ongoing social life. She was commissioned to paint the mistress of her long-time patron, Baron Raoul Kuffner. Tamara finished the piece and then took her place as the new mistress.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Femme a Guitare. c. 1929.
Oil on canvas. Private collection.)

Tamara traveled to Chicago in 1933, where she met and collaborated with Georgia O'Keeffe, Santiago Martinez Delgado, and Willem de Kooning. Tamara married her lover, Baron Raoul Kuffner. After his wife passed away, they eventually moved to the United States.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Andromeda. c. 1929. Private collection.)

The famous pop star and actress Madonna is a huge fan and collector of Lempicka's work. Andromeda was featured at the beginning of Madonna's "Open Your Heart" video in 1987. Femme a Guitare was also shown at the beginning of Madonna's "Vogue" video in 1990.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Portrait de Marjorie Ferry. c. 1932.)

The set, fashion, and costumes of Madonna's "Express Yourself" video in 1989 were heavily influenced by the Portrait of Marjorie and Dormeuse.

(De Lempicka, Tamara. Dormeuse.)

Tamara was a pioneer in the twentieth-century art arena for women and proved that they could not just be models but be on the other side of the easel as professionals. Her contribution and legacy leaves style that is unique and still inspires today.