I'm not sure what Lady Gaga — who arrives in Japan shortly — has in her art collection, but given time (and the millions produced by her phenomenal success) I think it is highly likely that a lady of her strong aesthetic drives will get round to emulating her model Madonna by acquiring paintings by Tamara de Lempicka, the Art Deco diva whose works have cropped up in several of Madonna's music videos, most notably "Vogue."

Now the subject of an impressive major retrospective at Shibuya's Bunkamura Museum of Art, Lempicka epitomized the cool glamour of the 1920s and '30s, a time when forces as disparate as feminism and fascism worked their way into the weft of the period's dominant Art Deco aesthetic.

Emphasizing geometric stylization, exulting in industrial processes and striving for awe-inspiring grandeur, Art Deco had an inhuman, fascistic element — something apparent in the set designs for Fritz Lang's movie "Metropolis" and the great skyscrapers that characterized the period. But the aesthetic also had a strong sense of luxury and sensuality — mediated through a frosty insouciance — that expressed the new power enjoyed by women of a certain class in the decades following the slaughter of millions of young men in the trench warfare of World War I.