Image: Tamara de Lempicka - Suzy Solidor, 1933, Musee Grimaldi, Cagnes-sur-mer.
Tamara de Lempicks (1898-1980) was the daughter of a wealthy family in Warsaw who became, I would argue, the greatest portrait painter in the Art Deco style.
In the case of Suzy Solidor(1900-1983), the model was every bit the artist's equal in interest. Born Suzanne Marion to a single mother in Brittany, Solidor learned to drive at the age of sixteen, unusual for a girl at that time, and by the age of eighteen she was an official ambulance driver on the front lines of battle at Oise. It was after the war when she arrived in Paris that she changed her name to Suzy Solidor, performing as a singer and actress and then opening a wildly successful nightclub La Vie parisienne. At a time when sexuality was regarded as behavior more than identity Solidor, always ready to give convention the short shrift, took for granted her right to pursue romantic liaisons with both women (Yvonne de Bremond d'Ars) and men (aviator Jean Mermoz), notably her affair with de Lempicka which began when de Lempicka agreed to paint her portrait - but only if she posed nude. That's one creative way to woo a woman.
In the interests of art historical completeness, I should point out that if Solidor looks familiar it is because she was painted by several of her contemporaries - Braque, Dufy, Laurencin, Picabia, Picasso and Kees van Dongen.
"Oh hell, here's that dark wood again.
You thought you'd gotten through it -
middle of your life, the ogre turned into a mouse
monsters hammered down
into their caves, werewolves outrun.
You'd come out of all that, into a field.
There was one man standing in it.
He held out his arms.
Ping went your iHeart
so you took off all your clothes.
Now there were two of you,
or maybe one mashed back together
like sandwich halves,
You lived on grapes and antidepressants
and the occasional small marinated mammal.
You watched the DVDs that dropped
from the DVD tree. Nothing
was forbidden to you, so no worries there.
It rained a lot.
You planted some tomatoes.
Something bad had to happen
because no trouble, no story, so
Fuck you, fine, whatever,
here come more black trees
hung with sleeping bats
like ugly Christmas ornaments.
Don't you hate the holidays?
All that giving. All those wind-up
creches, those fake silver icicles.
If you had a real one you could stab
your undead love through its big
cursed heart. Instead you have silver noodle
with which you must flay yourself.
Denial of pleasure,
death before death,
alone in the woods with a few bats
unfolding their creaky wings."
- Divine by Kim Addonizio
reprinted from The Best American Poetry 2013, edited by Denise Duhamel, New York, Scribner:
Kim Addonizio (b. 1954) is a fearless, ebullient, award-winning poet who lives in San Francisco.