Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980)was the lone traditional easel painter in the entirety of the Art Deco
style. Her sources of inspiration ranged dramatically: she adored Italian Renaissance
painting; she was characterized by critics as a sort of mo dern-day Ingres
, although the comparisons were more often not intended to flatter; she absorbed the avant-garde
art of the era - particularly post-cubist abstraction
but of a "softened" style. Perhaps most influential was Lempicka's desire to capitalize on her social connections to create a niche for her portraiture, which most often featured well-to-do, cosmopolitan types. The Art Deco style, lavish in a less visually complex way than its predecessor, Art Nouveau
, was probably the ideal vehicle for her trendy style. Most notably, despite its decorative quality, her work provided her with an outlet for unconventional self-expression: truly a product of her era, the libertine golden age between the two world wars, Lempicka, a bisexual, made bold, liberated female sexuality the linchpin of her art.