Born in 1899 to Russian Aristocrats, Tamara de Lempicka escaped the Bolsheviks by exchanging her body for freedom, dramatically beginning a sexual career that included most of the influential men and women she painted. Her paintings, like the artist herself, glow with beauty and sexuality. Contemporary critics, however, dismissed her gorgeously stylised portraits and condemned her scandalous lifestyle. A resurgence of interest in her work occurred in the 1980s, spurred by such celebrity collectors such as Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand and Madonna.
Laura Claridge is the author of biographies of the painters Tamara de Lempicka and Norman Rockwell, as well as books on British Romanticism, Modernism, gender, and psychoanalytic theory. A popular international lecturer, she was professor of English literature at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, for eleven years. She lives in New York City. First published by Bloomsbury in 2001, Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence is the first critical biography of the most extraordinary woman artist of the art-deco period. Born to Russian aristocrats in 1899, de Lempicka arrived in Paris in 1919 and was condemned by contemporary critics; the eighties saw a resurgence in of interest in her artistic accomplishments and her sexual proclivities. The Royal Academy held an exhibition of her work from 15 May to 30 August 2004.