but it's national women's history month so let's look at some art:
Tamara de Lempicka was a polish art deco painter born at the turn of the previous century- the generation which lived through the great depression and both world wars. many are probably most familiar with her Auto-Portrait- a statement on both female independence and modernity by the generation who pretty much invented the future we inherited and still live out of. the 20s were the birthplace of our modern consumerist culture and indeed collective consumerist psyche- with its freudian overtones and new agey self help truisms that the hippies like to think they invented. free love, peace and love pacifism, nudist communes and going back to the land were all the stuff of the 20s. the flappers, heirs to the vast mind and universe destroying first world war, architects of the great economic collapse and, finally, victims of nazi/european socialism they evolved from a far more radical and innovative time and place than the bored horny unwashed upper middle class brats born in the late 40s early 50s in their safe suburban ozzie and harriet homes.
i was profoundly influenced by lempicke when i was in art school- where you never heard her name spoken amid all the great men/boys of art being wanked over. it was my uncle who first introduced me to her and that luminous enchanting green.
she died march 18, 1980 in mexico. her ashes were thrown out over the volcano Popocatépetl .
Romaine Brooks, pretty much of the same generation as lempicke was an american ex-patriot living as ex patriots of the time were want to do in paris. she is perhaps generally happened upon today through learning of her relationship with fellow american nathalie barney-poet,writer, serial sapphist and important salon keeper amid the usual thicket of male dominated male championing salons that promoted Art, capital A in 1900's france. lesbian, feminist, pagan- it's worth it for women's history month to learn about natalie barney alone (Wickes, George 1976. The Amazon of Letters.).
called the ' thief of souls' by a friend, romaine brooks is most known for her severe portraits of the sundry gal pals of natalie's salon. she lived in near poverty as an art student in europe . she was harassed in art school- art was not a field of endeavor allowed females, even those of means. when her mother died she inherited a fortune and began mingling with the annoying bougie bougie and high society that supported artists in paris. not reliant on sales to keep painting, she produced portraits of whomever she wanted looking however she perceived them to look. nothing could be more modern and it's this freedom and honesty on her part and her gender and sexual preference which probably led to her being largely forgotten as an artist. it's only recently that it has been fully appreciated how her gender fuck portraits made at a time of far greater homophobia and sexism than those of us today can imagine were revolutionary and ground breaking.
after WW2 brooks withdrew from art gradually, then entirely, and seemed to dissolve into paranoia which she attributed to her mother and her childhood. she locked herself in a hotel, only seeing natalie barney- eventually even refusing to see her. she died in france in 1970 , alone. her portraits give us an astounding glimpse into her world- a world nearly a century away from us- in which many were bravely living out the promptings that came from their own inner natures against immense odds. it would seem romaine brooks paid the price for her unerring eye and honesty. the cruelest trick of socially induced Misogyny, supported by church, state and the culture, is self hatred- the depressing, limiting millstone of induced self hatred.
of this portrait of 'well of loneliness' writer radcliyffe hall's girlfriend, brooks said "Una is funny to paint. Her get-up is remarkable. She will live perhaps and cause future generations to smile."