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.
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Art Deco cars rev up the museumChron.com, February 11th
Chrysler Dean Reifsnider (behind wheel) in a 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt concept car at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Houston. The MFAH is getting 17 Art Deco cars and motorcycles into the museum for its "Sculpted in Steel" ...Read more
Lalique loaned to 'Deco capital'Gisborne Herald, February 10th
For Vodanovich, however, it was another aspect of the collection that caught her fancy: because she now lives in the city considered to be the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, she has focused on the ornate pieces in Richards' store of works by famed...Read more
Property: Sherborne property offers art deco style, Italianate garden and golf ...Blackmore Vale Magazine, February 10th
West Dene, Bradford Road, Sherborne dates from the 1960's and was acquired by the present owners about ten years ago. Since then the property has undergone a comprehensive programme of restoration, extension, modernisation and re-fitting, the result ...Read more
LA's art deco Broadway theater district is the (cool) cat's pajamasSan Jose Mercury News, February 9th
The words "grandeur" and "fun" seem like fourth cousins. They get together only on rare occasions, and they don't quite recognize each other across the room. But cruising around Los Angeles' lively Broadway Street theater district -- where the varied...Read more
Art deco perfume factory in north Acton to become 500 build-to-rent flatsEvening Standard, February 9th
An Art Deco former perfume factory is to be turned into London's biggest ever “build-to-rent” housing development. There will be more than 500 homes, exclusively for rent, at the 2.8-acre site in north Acton after Ealing councillors approved the £200...Read more
Secret past: Inside Milan's crumbling Art Deco 'day hotel'CNN, February 8th
Today's visitors can still enjoy the Albergo's maze of elegant art deco architecture and columns, refined pottery, geometric tiles and lavish statues. Its fountains, flanked by hygiene deities and once brimming with red fish, are still there too. The...Read more
Amid public project drop, art deco supporters seek private fundingKOKI FOX 23, February 2nd
From interior fixtures to dishes and statues to exteriors of buildings that no longer exist, the group hopes to showcase that Tulsa is the art deco capitol of the country and what Tulsa used to be in the 1920s. The group had requested around $4.5...Read more
Art Deco architecture dominates downtown TulsaLincoln Journal Star, January 30th
The Deco District downtown features buildings designed in the Art Deco style in its many forms. However, that's not the only place one can see the artistic influence. Scattered throughout the city are churches, schools, gas stations and even the...Read more