Suzy Solidor was born in 1900 in the Pie district of Saint-Servan-sur-Mer in Brittany, France, under the name of Suzanne Louise Marie Marion. She was the daughter of Louise Marie Adeline Marion, a 28-year-old single mother. In 1907 she became Suzy Rocher when her mother married Eugène Prudent Rocher. She later changed her name to Suzy Solidor when she moved to Paris in the late 1920s, taking the name from a district of Saint-Servan in which she had lived.
Early in 1930 she became a popular singer and opened a chic nightclub called La Vie Parisienne. She was openly lesbian.
One of the singer’s most famous publicity stunts was to become known as the “most painted woman in the world”. She posed for some of the most celebrated artists of the day including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, Tamara de Lempicka, Marie Laurencin, Francis Picabia and Kees van Dongen. Her stipulation for sitting was that she would be given the paintings to hang in her club and by this time she had accumulated thirty-three portraits of herself. La Vie parisienne became one of the trendiest night spots in Paris.
Solidor met Tamara de Lempicka sometime in the early 1930s and Suzy asked the artist to paint her. Tamara agreed, but only if she could paint Solidor in the nude. Solidor agreed and the painting was finished in 1933.
During the occupation her nightclub was popular with German officers; in 1941 she recorded a version of the song "Lili Marleen" with French words by Henri Lemarchand. After the war she was convicted by the Épuration légale as a collaborator.
Solidor’s most famous portrait was done by Tamara de Lempicka
Suzy Solidor was a French singer and actress, appearing in films such as La Garçonne. Solidor met Tamara de Lempicka sometime in the early 1930s and Suzy asked the artist to paint her. Tamara agreed, but only if she could paint Solidor in the nude. Solidor agreed and the painting was finished in 1933. In 1941 she recorded the song "Lili Marleen" with French words by Henri Lemarchand and was popular with German officers. After the war she was convicted by the Épuration légale as a collaborator.
Man Ray. Suzy Solidor, 1929
She died on 30 March 1983 in Cagnes-sur-Mer and is buried in the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer, where she had lived.
Tamara Łempicka, commonly known as Tamara de Lempicka (16 May 1898 – 18 March 1980) was a Polish Art Deco painter and "the first woman artist to be a glamour star". Influenced by Cubism, Lempicka became the leading representative of the Art Deco style across two continents, a favorite artist of many Hollywood stars, referred to as 'the baroness with a brush'. She was the most fashionable portrait painter of her generation among the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy, painting duchesses and grand dukes and socialites. Through her network of friends, she was also able to display her paintings in the most elite salons of the era. Lempicka was criticized as well as admired for her 'perverse Ingrism', referring to her modern restatement of the master Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, as displayed in her work Group of Four Nudes (1925) among other studies. (P: d'Ora Studio. Tamara de Lempicka, Paris, 1929)
She was born Maria Górska in Warsaw, Congress Poland under the rulership of the Russian Empire, into a wealthy and prominent family. Lempicka was the daughter of Boris Gurwik-Górski, a Russian Jewish attorney for a French trading company, and Malwina Dekler, a Polish socialite who met him at one of the European spas. Maria had two siblings and was the middle child. She attended a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, and spent the winter of 1911 with her grandmother in Italy and on the French Riviera, where she was treated to her first taste of the Great Masters of Italian painting. In 1912, her parents divorced, and Maria went to live with her rich Aunt Stefa in St. Petersburg, Russia. When her mother remarried, she became determined to break away to make a life of her own. In 1913, at the age of fifteen, while attending the opera, Maria spotted the man she became determined to marry. She promoted her campaign through her well-connected uncle, and in 1916 she married Tadeusz Łempicki (1888–1951) in St. Petersburg—a well-known ladies' man, gadabout, and lawyer by title, who was tempted by the significant dowry.
In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, Tadeusz Łempicki was arrested in the dead of night by the Bolsheviks. Maria searched the prisons for him and after several weeks, with the help of the Swedish consul, she secured his release. They traveled to Copenhagen then to London and finally to Paris, to where Maria's family had also escaped.
In the winter of 1939, Lempicka and her husband started an "extended vacation" in the United States. She immediately arranged for a show of her work in New York, though the Baron and Baroness chose to settle in Beverly Hills, California, living in the former residence of Hollywood director King Vidor. She cultivated a Garboesque manner. The Baroness would visit the Hollywood stars on their studio sets, such as Tyrone Power, Walter Pidgeon, and George Sanders and they would come to her studio to see her at work. She did war relief work, like many others at the time; and she managed to get Kizette out of Nazi-occupied Paris, via Lisbon, in 1941. Some of her paintings of this time had a Salvador Dalí quality, as displayed in Key and Hand, 1941. In 1943, the couple relocated to New York City. Even though she continued to live in style, socializing continuously, her popularity as a society painter had diminished greatly. They traveled to Europe frequently to visit fashionable spas and so that the Baron could attend to Hungarian refugee work. For a while, she continued to paint in her trademark style, although her range of subject matter expanded to include still lifes, and even some abstracts. Yet eventually she adopted a new style, using palette knife instead of brushes. Her new work was not well received when she exhibited in 1962 at the Iolas Gallery. Lempicka determined never to show her work again, and retired from active life as a professional artist.
Insofar as she still painted at all, Lempicka sometimes reworked earlier pieces in her new style. The crisp and direct Amethyste (1946), for example, became the pink and fuzzy Girl with Guitar (1963). She showcased at the Ror Volmar Gallery in Paris from 30 May to 17 June 1961.
After Baron Kuffner's death from a heart attack on 3 November 1961 on the ocean liner Liberté en route to New York, she sold most of her possessions and made three around-the-world trips by ship. Finally Lempicka moved to Houston, Texas to be with Kizette and her family. (Kizette had married a man named Harold Foxhall, who was then chief geologist for the Dow Chemical Company; they had two daughters.) There she began her difficult and disagreeable later years. Kizette served as Tamara's business manager, social secretary, and factotum, and suffered under her mother's controlling domination and petulant behavior. Tamara complained that not only were the paints and other artists' materials now inferior to the "old days" but that people in the 1970s lacked the special qualities and "breeding" that inspired her art. The artistry and craftsmanship of her glory days were unrecoverable. In 1978 Tamara moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to live among an aging international set and some of the younger aristocrats. After Kizette's husband died of cancer, she attended her mother for three months until Tamara died in her sleep on March 18, 1980. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the volcano of Popocatepetl on 27 March 1980 by her Mexican friend Victor Manuel Contreras and her daughter Kizette.
Lempicka lived long enough for the wheel of fashion to turn a full circle: before she died a new generation had discovered her art and greeted it with enthusiasm. A retrospective in 1973 drew positive reviews. At the time of her death, her early Art Deco paintings were being shown and purchased once again. A stage play, Tamara, was inspired by her meeting with Gabriele D'Annunzio and was first staged in Toronto; it then ran in Los Angeles for eleven years (1984–1995) at the VFW Post, making it the longest running play in Los Angeles, and some 240 actors were employed over the years. The play was also subsequently produced at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City. In 2005, the actress and artist Kara Wilson performed Deco Diva, a one-woman stage play based on Lempicka's life. Her life and her relationship with one of her models is fictionalized in Ellis Avery's novel The Last Nude, which won the American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Barbara Gittings Literature Award for 2013.
American singer-songwriter and actress Madonna is an admirer and collector of Lempicka's work and has lent paintings to events and museums. Madonna has also featured Lempicka's work in her music videos "Open Your Heart" (1987), "Express Yourself" (1989), "Vogue" (1990) and "Drowned World/Substitute for Love" (1998). She also used paintings by Lempicka on the sets of her 1987 Who's That Girl and 1990 Blond Ambition world tours.
Other notable Lempicka collectors include actor Jack Nicholson and singer-actress Barbra Streisand.
Women Artists in Interwar France by Paula J. Birnbaum
Hardcover: 356 pages
Publisher: Ashgate (May 1, 2011)
Amazon: Women Artists in Interwar France
"Women Artists in Interwar France: Framing Femininities" illuminates the importance of the Societe des Femmes Artists Modernes, more commonly known as FAM, and returns this group to its proper place in the history of modern art. In particular, this volume explores how FAM and its most famous members - Suzanne Valadon, Marie Laurencin, and Tamara de Lempicka - brought a new approach to the most prominent themes of female embodiment: the self-portrait, motherhood, and the female nude. These women reimagined art's conventions and changed the direction of both art history and the politics of their contemporary art world. FAM has been excluded from histories of modern art despite its prominence during the interwar years. Paula Birnbaum's study redresses this omission, contextualizing the group's legacy in light of the conservative politics of 1930s France. The group's artistic response to the reactionary views and images of women at the time is shown to be a key element in the narrative of modernist formalism. Although many FAM works are missing-one reason for the lack of attention paid to their efforts - Birnbaum's extensive research, through archives, press clippings, and first-hand interviews with artists' families, reclaims FAM as an important chapter in the history of art from the interwar years.
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