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Short biography
Tamara de Lempicka was born Maria Górska to a wealthy family in Warsaw, Poland. Her father Boris Gurwik-Górski was a Russian Jewish attorney and her mother Malwina Dekler was a Polish socialite. She attended a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1912, her parents divorced, and she was sent to live in the luxurious home of a rich aunt in St. Petersburg. After her mother remarried, she became determined to have a household of her own. In 1916, after three years of effort, she married Tadeusz Łempicki, a lawyer. The following year, during the Russian Revolution, Łempicki was arrested by the Bolsheviks but she secured his release, and they fled through Europe to Paris. There she gave birth to her only child Marie-Christine, nicknamed Kizette. Now known as Tamara de Lempicka, she had her first major show in Milan, Italy in 1925, the year she painted her iconic Auto-Portrait for the cover of the German fashion magazine Die Dame. In 1927, she won her first major award, first prize at the Exposition Internationale des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux, France, for her portrait of Kizette on the Balcony. Tamara became one of the most memorable and acclaimed Art Deco artists. She took a prominent role in the bohemian life of Paris during the Roaring Twenties. She socialized with Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, André Gide, Vita Sackville-West, and Colette. The Great Depression had little effect on her as her portraits continued to be in great demand by royalty and high society, and museums began to acquire her work. After a divorce from her first husband, she remarried in 1934 to Baron Raoul Kuffner, a Hungarian aristocrat. In 1939, the couple left Europe for the USA and settled in Beverly Hills, California and later in New York City. She continued to paint although she fell into obscurity. After Baron Kuffner's death in 1961, she sold most of her possessions and made three trips around the world. She spent a few years living in Houston to be closer to Kizette, and then moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she died. Her popularity revived in her later years as Art Deco was rediscovered.
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