La Dormeuse - Analysis

La Dormeuse by
La Dormeuse by
Tamara Lempicka
Tamara Lempicka

The Mistress of Art Deco

Art Deco was a movement that started in the roaring twenties and continued to the thirties. It was the machine age, and the age of chromed cars, talking movies and long cigarette holders... it was also a time of reaction to the spartan culture brought about by the first world war. And the second world war was responsible for its demise.

Art Deco was about shiny surfaces, geometric shapes and elaboration. Aero-dynamism and slickness, style and ostentation.

Tamara Lempicka painted in a post-post-impressionist style. Cubism first appeared as an offshoot of impressionism in the works of artists like Cézanne, and later became a full-fledged movement. There's cubism and cubism, and the soft variety is that which is not greatly abstract, but uses geometric shapes and stylised lighting to make a decorative and graphic statement.

Tamara was a soft cubist, who also led a delightfully scandalous art-deco life. But I am talking about the colour in her art here, not in her life.

The Musician by Tamara de Lempicka
The Musician by Tamara de Lempicka

Every artist draws a self-portrait

La Dormeuse means the sleeper, I think. I have a theory that every artist does a self-portrait everytime. Compare the painting with the photograph of the painter and see if you can spot the six differences. Whether she used a model or not, I guess she painted her own portrait. The eyes, the lips, the nose, the hair...or is it that fashion and make-up of the times made every lady look the same way? I don't know, I could be wrong. Or right.

At a 1994 New York auction, they were amazed when Lempicka's painting Adam and Eve was unveiled. The painting seemed to glow and shimmer, due to the artist's brilliant use of colour and light. She had had great tutors: Vermeer and other great masters had taught her through their paintings in the Louvre, where she had spent hours studying them.The painting fetched nearly two million dollars. After that, her paintings became popular again, and Hollywood helped further the popularity. Her originals hang in the homes of stars like Madonna and Jack Nicholson.

Why the shine and gloss? I think that was the twenties look. If you take a look at The Musician, on our right, you will notice that the lady looks like she is made of chrome. She can be stuck on the hood of a '20s car, no questions asked. The paintings are like sculpture in chrome. Most things, like the drapery, look like metal foil. It's the effect of using sharp contrast and shading that simulates reflective material.

I have nothing much to say about the composition, as the lines are obvious, not hidden. This artist uses dynamic diagonals for her subjects and sets them against secure verticals in the background. Funnily, in The Musician, the musician looks like an angel in a niche, reminding me of early Christian icons.

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Comments 32 comments

Iðunn 7 years ago

" post-post-impressionist" lol :p nice. ok, so first, I had no idea she was so big, but the cubism I noticed and I'm fond of. I also like cezanne and I watched a doco about the rise of post-impressionism. some rare general background for me on this one.

I could see entire philosophical essays coming out of your ideas... first that every piece is autobiographical or a self-portrait somehow, in artist creation. I heard a theory once that freud said everyone in your dream is yourself, so it's not unfamiliar territory. second, the theory that society constructs force people through subtle pressure to 'be the same person'. intriguing.

perhaps there will be some poetry out of this some day. I have a bit I never work on about... well I won't say what it is because someone else will write it first. let's just say maybe I'll get a move on about it. haha. :p

thank you so much for taking the time to analyze this piece for me.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

I love the art deco period. What a lady! Thanks for bringing her to our attention


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you, Iðunn and Gypsy. :)

Iðunn, there will always be poetry out of any thing, for a poet, especially for a thinker like you. I shall look forward to those.

Oh the old Freud will surely have something to say, I love him so much! :DI draw cartoons and almost all the time I draw them with big noses and big smiles: everything is an autobiography and a self-portrait, right! Works of art are always children of the artists, and babies carry genes. :)

No need to thank me, O requester of feminist delights, it was truthfully my pleasure. Your gratitude overtook mine in an affectionate race: thank you!

Yes, Gypsy, I love the movement too. I was in advertising once, and the style of the period is a perennial favourite of art directors.

 


Iðunn 7 years ago

"I draw cartoons and almost all the time I draw them with big noses and big smiles: everything is an autobiography and a self-portrait, right!"

hahaha! too funny... but what's even funnier, it just brings back the thought of you with a big helium-filled balloon head floating up as your art version and me on the string in my art version - a stick figure with stick-i-out hair which is about all I can manage.

I am going to write that one too, some day. :p


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

Please do write. Stick figure with stick-out hair (btw is it still magenta?) you are welcome to string along. :)))


Iðunn 7 years ago

string along indeed. I couldn't think of anything more fun. You always make me giggle. the hair is currently black. if you go back and check the "almost cut my hair" thread, I snuck two slide shows in the other day. one is current with black hair like, three weeks ago and one is from a couple of days ago, fading back to brown. nice play on fading to black, yes? I'm always polar opposite. such an eccentric.


Iðunn 7 years ago

I keep going back and looking at 'the musician'. you know, after you pointed it out, yes, there is a definite saint or angel quality to the expression. I could see that expression superimposed as you suggested. fantastic.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

What will the world be without eccentrics? :) I too do crazy things with my hair, but not as much as you do.

Yes, isnt there a saintlike expression? And composed like those medieval icons, too.


Iðunn 7 years ago

I drew for you.  Well, I scribbled on a blurry desktop image.  Anyway, now you can see it how I imagine it.  :D  Floating with friends, indeed.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

I have been there. :))

And it matched what I imagined that you imagined too. Yes, your hub made me more buoyant now. People of the world, float!


Iðunn 7 years ago

hehe. I made you an especially big head to leave room for more bouyancy. :)

I labelled my 'art' to the side as "un-art"... truth in advertising. it's about as un-arty as one can get. I had trouble finding the print from my destop (that IS my desktop) and had to make do with an enlarged print or it would have been... well... still un-arty. haha!


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

But I thought it was impossible to do unart! :)

Ah, maybe in the sense of natural as opposed to arty.


Iðunn 7 years ago

shall you do picasso's 'the rest' for me sometime? you know, I actually recently acquired my beloved "dingoes at the park" (basquiat) and rabi khan's lovely "safe in her arms". gorgeous work. the dingoes preside over my dining table which frankly is a little scary and the rabi khan print lovingly warms my living room.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

With pleasure, Madam. That will be my next one. Let me start my research rightaway. :)


Iðunn 7 years ago

oh, thanks! you are such a doll~


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

There are two, shall I do both?

Let me also look at your Basquiat and Rabi Khan, and share your pleasure.


Iðunn 7 years ago

the basquiat is on this hub: http://hubpages.com/art/Jean-Michel-Basquiat

which I believe you browsed once with very courteous unimpression hehe.

I still love that thing. I loved it enough to buy it, finally. "The Rest" is my next shop for, but it's going to be a while. The price is :O even for the print.

The version I like is here:

http://www.art.com/products/p12158279-sa-i1544712/...

and my (first) rabi khan piece is the one from my hub here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/poem-for-jonathan

sorry on the links, if you want you can deny comment after you look, it won't offend.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

I have no problems with links. :)

Thanks.

Your version is the one that's usually referred to as the rest, or Le Repos. So will do that then.


Iðunn 7 years ago

again, thank you so much. darn, now I want to see which the other one is. O.O


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

k, will show that one also. :)


Iðunn 7 years ago

thanks, I looked at a few places and could not find, unless it's 'the dreamer' one.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Your comment about the musician looking like an angel in a niche is a very interesting one (well -- the whole hub is interesting, thanks!) -- I was wondering about how it was posed, as the darker background around her head is a sort of "anti-halo", isn't it? Fascinating.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you Teresa for the compliment. :)

You are right: negative halos make the face shine brighter by contrast.


Iðunn 7 years ago

thanks, I like the common one best... I suppose most do and that's why it's common, but I will say the other version lends to a much airier feeling, the increased colour, especially yellow. it's a totally different mood. one is peaceful, I think the leser known one is joyful.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

There, you gave us a minitake! :) I will be jobless if poets analyse art. But happy way to go. :P


Iðunn 7 years ago

lol, you cannot be replaced. who else can I fly with? I read with interest Ms. McGurk's take on the halo effect. She's the one you should be scared of :O hehe


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

ROFL! and ty :)

Teresa, you listening? :)


Mina Lincoln profile image

Mina Lincoln 7 years ago from Arlington, Texas

This was a great Hub Kenny. I look forward to more of your Hubs.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you very much, Mina. :)


nikki1 profile image

nikki1 6 years ago

amazing artwork.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 6 years ago from Chennai Author

Yes, Nikki! :)

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