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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979
Pages 14 and 15
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Pages 14 and 15. December 1978 - January 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. February 21, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/870.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(December 1978 - January 1979). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Pages 14 and 15. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/870

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979 - Pages 14 and 15, December 1978 - January 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed February 21, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/884/show/870.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 4, No. 1, December 1978 - January 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date December 1978 - January 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Pages 14 and 15
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_546an.jpg
Transcript La Communiante Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France "I am sitting in the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo. The American Andy Warhol comes in. 'Sit down, Warkho\,'I say. He is a little man with white hair and a gray face. He has a dirty shirt and no expression. He sits. Soon there are two, eight, twenty people around. He says nothing, then he sees the picture from my catalogue tyhe award-winning La Communiante, painted in 1929]on the table. He says, 'Who painted this? It is wonderful, marvelous.' He holds it to his heart. 'I must know who has painted this,' he says. He is always very dramatic and exaggerated. 'Me,'I say. "It is my table. I must be polite, so I ask all of these people 'Wouldyou like a drink, some ice cream?' And I order it. "Afterward I go to pay. The captain says all has been taken care of. 'But by whom?' I say. These people were at my table. There must have been over twenty of them. 'Twenty- two,'he says. 'Mr. Warhol paid for everything.' " there was nothing there for me," the baroness says. "And so we went to Paris." Paris in 1918 was overrun with upper- class refugees from Russia who suddenly found themselves impoverished. Some, like the Czar's cousin, Grand Duke Gabriel Constantinovich, who later posed for Lempicka, refused to work. Fortunately, he was supported by his mistress, an emigree ballerina. Others became models in the fashion houses or lived frugally on the income from the sale of salvaged jewelry. Life was difficult for the Lempitzskis. They lived with their baby daughter, Kizette, in a small, one- bedroom apartment in an unfashionable quarter of the city. The situation eventually proved too much for Thadeus Lempitzski, who left for Poland and never returned. "After my husband left, I was alone in Paris with a small daughter to support. I was so depressed. One night at a party I went into a small room by myself. I suddenly began to cry and cry. My sister came in. I said, 'What can I do? I have no job. I will not be un mannequin, I have no money. What am I to do?' She said, 'You can work. You can^paint.' And so I did. "I studied for a short time at the schools of Maurice Denis and Andre Lhote. There were many pupils. The lessons were cheap. Mostly I painted at home in my small living room. I was fortunate: it had a good north light. I lived in the artists' quartier where everyone was very avant-garde. Everyone was revolting, themselves against the conventions. Everyone did something new. This was the time for such things. "One night in the Brasserie Coupole, a cafe for artists (there were two - this was the better), Marinetti, the Italian who was a futurist, was making a speech. He is in the front at a long table. I am a young artist. I sit beside him very quietly. He speaks about how we artists are enslaved by the past, how the conventions are keeping us prisoner. He becomes more and more excited. He jumps on the table. The whole cafe is listening. He says that until we destroy the art of the past, there can be no true art moderne, and therefore we must go now to destroy the Louvre, which is the symbol of the past. He be- Kizette Au Balcon Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, France One of Lempicka s first great successes. Kizette, a portrait of her daughter, now Mrs. Harold Foxhall of Houston, was awarded the First Prize for painting at the 1927 Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France. It was acquired by the French government in 1976 "for the people of France." gins to chant, 'Burn the Louvre! Burn the Louvre!' He shouts that we must go NOW! I, too, am chanting 'Burn the Louvre!' I am very excited. I look up at him. I say 'Maestro, my little car is outside; we can use it to go to burn the Louvre.' We all run outside — thirty, forty people. The car is gone. The police have taken it away for the false parking. Instead of to the Louvre, we go all of us to the police station, where I must produce papers to free my car. Marinetti is very quiet. We have lost the passion to burn the Louvre." Although she was only a young artist, Lempicka was already well thought of. From the time of her first major exhibit- tions in 1923 at Paris' prestigious avant- garde Salon des Independants and Salon d'Automne, ' Lempicka was recognized as un talent exceptionnel. Her Deco- style paintings won virtually instantaneous critical and popular acclaim. Art Deco is a term difficult to define precisely. It is usually taken to mean the art of the period from the Paris "Deco" exhibition of 1925 through the beginning of World War II. But for the artists and craftspeople who participated in the watershed 1925 exhibition, their work was more than just a part of the artistic continuum. They saw themselves as the founders of a brave new "electrical" world. There was a widespread feeling that art as previously defined, or for that matter the world as anyone understood it, had died in the trenches of World War I. The sense of social dislocation during the period was extreme. The artistic focus was consequently narrowed to the degree that everything not absolutely "contemporary" was banned. The past was dead. It should be buried. Burn the Louvre! The attitude of Art Deco's creators could be seen in their lives as well as in their art. For many of them, in a society that had burned its roots, living well was, indeed, the best revenge. The Deco era was a time when, as one critic said, "Two worlds met, when a style of art came into confrontation with an art of living." Tamara de Lempicka was the quintessential symbol of the Deco era. Indeed, her self-portrait, painted about 1928, has been featured at retrospectives, even at the 1975 "Paris 1925," the French capital's celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the original Deco exhibition, as the face of Deco. A recent article in The New York Times described her Autoportrait as depicting a "steely-eyed goddess of the auto age" sitting behind the wheel of a sleek, powerful, green sports car. The baroness laughs. "It was a little Renault, not green, but bright yellow and black. When I drove in it, I wore a pullover of the same bright yellow, always with a black skirt and hat. I was dressed like the car and the car like me. "One day in Monte Carlo I left the car to go into Chanel. When I retourne I find a note on the windscreen. No name, a message only. It says: 'You look so wonderful in the car I would like to meet with you.' It was signed with a woman's name and the address of a fashionable hotel in Nice. "Later, when I am in Nice, I think of the note and say, 'Why not?' I go to the hotel and send my card with a message to say this is about the car in Monte Carlo. A fashionable woman greets me with enthusiasm. She says, T did not know before - before I thought only this woman and her car they make such a vision. But now, are you not Lempicka the painter?' 'Yes, Madame, I am.' 'Well,' she says. T am the fashion directrice for Die Dame.' This was a chic women's magazine in Germany. 'Before I was interested only in your look, but now . . . would you consent to do a painting of yourself in your yellow car for the cover of Die Darnel "I am a young painter. I am not wealthy. I think quickly, 'yes,' I say, and yes again, because for this work I will be paid twice. First by the magazine for the reproduction, and then I will be able to sell the painting itself. And so I did. But I painted the car green because I prefer it so. This is how I began with this magazine. I did many covers for them. "Later people said that my car was a big Bugatti, that I was very wealthy. At this time this was not so. On the contrary, I was very poor." But Lempicka didn't remain "poor" for long. She soon became the most sought-after portrait painter in Europe, with a starting price of about 50,000 francs ($2,000 in 1925). King Alfonzo of La Belle Rafaela Private Collection, Paris, France "Every morning at ten-thirty I would walk in the Bois de Boulogne/or my health. I would begin to paint at first light and continue through the day until the light was gone. It was necessary to have the air to keep up my strength and so I would make this walk. Ten-thirty is not the fashionable hour. In winter there are very few people in the park. I am walking along, thinking about my work, concentrating, and I become aware of a woman walking some distance in front of me. As she walks, everyone coming in the opposite direction stops and looks at her. They turn their heads as she passes by. I am curious. What is so extraordinary that they are doing this? I walk very quickly until I pass her, then I turn around and come down the path in the opposite direction. Then I see why everyone stops. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I stop and say to her, 'Madame, I am a painter and I would like you to pose for me. Would you do this?' She says, 'Yes, why not?' and she comes back to my studio. "Her name is Rafaela and she poses for me for more than one year, for many paintings. We talk. She tells my many sad stories of her life. Finally I say to her I do not care what you are or do, but I will not listen further to untruths. Either you tell me the true stories or tell me none at all. And she says, 'Madame Lempicka, the truth is that I like to make love with men. At night I go out to look for men who also like to make love.' "I painted her in the nude. She assumed the pose herself on my old gray sofa. I arranged only the bit of cloth near her feet." The Sunday Times Magazine (London) has called La Belle Rafaela "surely one of the most remarkable nudes of the century." Spain sat for her, as did Queen Elizabeth of Greece. American millionaires booked her passage and paid all her expenses to persuade her to come to paint their portraits. In an era when movie stars were STARS, Lempicka was their equal, a celebrity of the first magnitude. She traveled in the highest circles of European society; painting kings and duchesses, celebrities and charlatans. Her name was mentioned repeatedly in society columns, usually prefaced by the adjectives "beautiful" and "blonde." Her mode of dress was noted ("Lempicka drifted by, her figure sheathed in bottle-green satin") and was widely imitated. Her beauty advice was sought. ("Distinction can be achieved," she once told Sunday supplement readers in America. "Every woman should dramatize herself.") During World War II she moved to Hollywood, where she visited with actors like Charles Boyer and Tyrone Power, lunched with Greta Garbo and Ronald Coleman, partied with Basil Rathbone and invited Katherine Hepburn to use the tennis courts at film director King Vidor's rented Beverly Hills mansion, where Lempicka was ensconced for the duration. But all the while she never stopped painting, and her works were used as drawing cards at war relief fundraisers, with even Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day" column noting her contributions. But when she returned to Europe after the war, Lempicka found that the artistic climate in France, devastated for the second time in thirty years, had changed beyond all recognition. Les annees folles were gone forever. New painters didn't care about decorative opulence. They painted what they saw-a gray world of shortages and rationing and ruins. They outlined figures in heavy black, they depicted the tortured workings of the mind through dark abstractions. Abstract became the norm. The art world's course took it further and further from the stylized elegance of Art Deco. Lempicka stopped exhibiting, she says, "due to the divergent tendencies in art." She faded from public view but still she continued to paint. In 1972, almost one-half century after the birth of Deco, the Gallerie du Luxembourg in Paris staged a major retrospective of Lempicka's works. Their power startled a new generation of art critics who were unfamiliar with her talent. The exhibition caught the first wave of Deco fever, the rediscovery of the aesthetic of les annees folles. The Paris show prompted wide discussion of her work in the European art press. Suddenly, Lempicka was famous again. Critics discussed her technique, calling it "Quattrocentist," ''robust, lebensvoll und stark " (healthy, full of life, and strong), or "rivaling Dali in technical proficiency, although his psychological antithesis." One's opinion of Lempicka's place in the art world depends to a great extent on one's opinion of Art Deco itself— whether one places the emphasis on the art or on the decorative. Until recently, many critics were inclined toward the latter, agreeing in principle with Burlington Magazine's line on the 1972 Lempicka exhibition: "They (her paintings) conjure up everything that is meant by the word 'smart'- exclusive, up to the minute, tinny, and second rate." But in France, where the tradition of Deco scholarship has progressed beyond its infancy, the critics are more inclined to place Lempicka higher up in the pantheon of twentieth century painters, agreeing with Florent Fels, dean of the French art critics, who wrote in L 'Art Vivant about that same 1972 exhibition: (continued on page I 7) 14 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH DECEMBER/JANUARY 1979 DECEMBER/JANUARY 1979 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 15