Art Deco was an international design and art movement in the 1920s and ’30s. Influenced by sources as varied as the Bauhaus School in Germany, the Cubist paintings of Georges Braques and Pablo Picasso, Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, and the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, the style was a rejection of the organic, naturalistic sensibility of Art Nouveau.

Art Deco was a machine-made aesthetic for a fast-paced industrial age, using symmetry and line to bring order to the natural world and suggest movement in objects as inert as chairs and bookends. Even the cinema echoed and inspired the trend, most famously in Fritz Lang’s 1927 vision of dystopia, Metropolis.

For a time, no object escaped the streamline touch of Art Deco. Frank Lloyd Wright filled his geometric buildings with equally angular lamps, tables, and stained-glass windows. Indeed, Art Deco architecture is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the style.

The 1930 Chrysler Building, an Art Deco masterpiece, is one of the most famous landmarks in Manhattan; the 1937 Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is another Art Deco triumph, in this case of both design and engineering. Then there’s Ocean Drive in the South Beach section of Miami, home to some 800 preserved Art Deco structures. Inside all those Art Deco buildings was furniture by the likes of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, who equipped his armchairs with assertive, mesa-flat armrests. Elsewhere in the house, a host of decorative and functional objects set an elegant tone.

Because most Art Deco objects were mass-produced, a great many survive today, making them terrific and often surprisingly affordable collectibles. Industrial designers Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfus created many functional objects (such as clocks, radios, and telephones) with the classic Art Deco angular, streamlined look. Statuettes and figurines, frequently of female nudes, were produced in plastic, bronze, and ceramic. Glass objects — from vases to perfume bottles — were also popular, with René Lalique, Antonin Daum, Henri Navarre, and Maurice Marinot among the most prized practitioners.

Porcelain figurines created for Robj, Rosenthal, and Lenci often depicted characters and caricatures dressed in the fabrics of the day, with Art Deco costume jewelry on their necks and Art Deco watches on their wrists. By the bed would be a bronze and mahogany clock, in the dining room a china service emblazoned with geometric patterns, and in the living room silver and enamel cigarette cases leaning against ashtrays made of Bakelite.

Art Deco had a great ride, but by 1939 the movement had run its course, giving way to World War II and what we now know as the Mid-Century Modern style (which made even the simple flourishes of Art Deco look baroque). A 1966 exhibition in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs reminded the world why Art Deco, previously called modernism, had been so popular in its day. Today, it may be even more so.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Art Deco 1910-1939

Art Deco 1910-1939

This Victoria and Albert Museum has a terrific collection of Art Deco objects. On the VAM's website, you can learn … [read review or visit site]



Randy Juster's survey of Art Deco imagery and reference on all things Deco. Includes pages on murals, houses, gov… [read review or visit site]



This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

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Recent News: Art Deco

Source: Google News

Art deco Bellingham City Hall celebrates its 75th year
Bellingham Herald, January 26th

Preservation consultant Lynette Felber will speak at the Monday, 26, 2015, event marking the 75th anniversary of Bellingham City Hall. She wrote the application that got the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places. PHILIP A. DWYER...Read more

Elegant Light Bulbs Shaped Like Art Deco Skyscrapers
CityLab, January 26th

The intricate design of the shades are inspired by the Art Deco era, a time when the first skyscrapers appeared in big cities like New York and Chicago. Nowadays every major city is dominated by high rise buildings. Their height steadily increasing in...Read more

Sir 'Beefy' set to join Art Deco Match
Hawke's Bay Today, January 25th

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the Legends of Cricket Art Deco Match, to be played on a Te Awanga farm at the end of Napier's annual Art Deco Weekend, would feature some of the game's top players, including Sir Ian "Beefy" ...Read more

Mason City family's art deco home has vintage flair
Mason City Globe Gazette, January 24th

A Mason City couple who spent years looking at houses say they've stumbled onto a keeper in their classic art deco home. Jay and Katie Eide loved living in their older English Tudor in Mason City. They liked looking at houses and weren't going to move ...Read more

Battle over art deco landmark, January 24th

The art deco Shell Mex House on the Strand is at the centre of legal battle between the property agent Savills and a German businessman, Henning Conle, over the sale of the property. Savills has filed a High Court writ claiming £7.2m commission for...Read more

Art Deco's enduring appeal, January 22nd

Despite approaching its centenary, the appeal of art deco jewellery still draws in the crowds. There's something enduringly chic about the geometric lines and lavish ornamentation of the style that defined the Twenties and Thirties. A decorative...Read more

In This Section, January 16th

Photo gallery: Miami Beach Art Deco Weekend | Fri., Jan. 16, 2015. Crowds lined Ocean Drive for the start of Miami Beach's Art Deco Weekend. Gallery; Comments. 1 of 7. Dancers rehearse at Art Deco hotel along Ocean Drive during Miami Beach's Art Deco ...Read more

$17 Million Home in Art Deco Chelsea Tower
New York Times, January 16th

Another apartment at Walker Tower that was claimed by one of the developers during the early stages of the Art Deco skyscraper's conversion sold for $17,156,250 and was the most expensive closed sale of the week, according to city records. The duplex ...Read more