Paula J. Birnbaum, “Painting the Perverse: Tamara de Lempicka and the Modern Woman Artist,” in The Modern Woman Revisited, ed. Whitney Chadwick and Tirza Latimer (Rutgers University Press, September 2003), 95-107.
The contributions of female artists to the development of literary and artistic modernism in early twentieth century France remain poorly understood. It was during this period that a so-called “modern woman” began occupying urban spaces associated with the development of modern art and modernism’s struggles to define subjectivities and sexualities. Whereas most studies of modernism’s formal innovations and its encouragement of artistic autonomy neglect or omit necessary discussions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, the contributors of The Modern Woman Revisited inject these perspectives into the discussion.
Between the two World Wars, Paris served as the setting for unparalleled freedom for expatriate as well as native-born French women, who enjoyed unprecedented access to education and opportunities to participate in public artistic and intellectual life. Many of these women made lasting contributions in art and literature. Some of the artists discussed include Colette, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Djuna Barnes, Augusta Savage, and Lee Miller.