One of the discoveries I made at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard yesterday was an Art Deco painter by the name of Tamara de Lempicka. There it was, next to all those beautiful Bugatti automobiles of the 1920s and 1930s: A self portrait of the artist in a green Bugatti. (Although Wikipedia states that the painting is in a Swiss private collection, it seems that Peter W. Mullin brought it, or a passable copy of it, for his museum.
There is something about the smug look on the subject’s face behind the wheel of a luxury automobile that struck me as the epitome of Art Deco. According to the Wikipedia article on her:
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.
Below are two of her other paintings to give you some idea of her work:
There is usually a strong facial resemblance in many of her female subjects. All three of these paintings could be described as self-portraits.