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 store keeps up with the times with online ordering
All About Hawke's Bay (press release), November 25th

The Art Deco Centre is getting ready for Christmas Shoppers with their list of gift recommendations for everyone on your list. And now, you don't even have to leave the house, because although the gifts might be 20th century themed, their online...Read more

Sparrow: Art Deco Rum Oasis Opens in the Gold Coast
Zagat, November 25th

A bit of Old Havana, touch of Art Deco and a lot of rum come together at the latest cocktail concept from Footman Hospitality (Bangers & Lace, The Betty). Sparrow is essentially a refurbished lobby bar now open in a circa 1927 apartment building...Read more

Art Deco buildings strong
Hawke's Bay Today, November 24th

The Bay's Art Deco buildings may be more earthquake-proof than initially thought following recent research. In a new report that discusses the seismic considerations of Napier's reinforced concrete buildings, author Professor Jason Ingham concluded the ...Read more

Office Space in Town Completes New High-Spec Art Deco Serviced Office in Mayfair
ABCN's Officing Today, November 24th

Featuring a 1920s Great Gatsby style complete with a newly-installed sweeping art deco staircase and glass atrium located above a Weber Grand Piano – the building draws on inspiration from the surrounding elegance of Mayfair. Incorporating a glamorous ...Read more

Earthquake report says Napier's art deco buildings 'robust'
The Dominion Post, November 23rd

Napier's heritage art deco buildings may be safer in an earthquake than has generally been assumed, according to a new engineering report. The city's CBD was rebuilt after the devastating 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, and many Napier commercial ...Read more

Post WWI Dragonfly lamp blends art nouveau, art deco
Press of Atlantic City, November 20th

Your art deco-style flexible bracelet features square, translucent, dark green faux emeralds interspersed with golden machined links. The links' geometric design and the flat surface of the stones typify art deco jewelry made by Simmons between 1925...Read more

Art deco metalsmith: 'Our copies look better than the originals'
Los Angeles Times, November 19th

So gaga is he that he spent five years crafting a contemporary American art deco chandelier, star-shaped with protruding frosted and acrylic spikes, in the style of C.J. Weinstein Co., a 1920s importing and lighting manufacturer that was based in New...Read more

Wm Patrick Cranley Loves the Art Deco Buildings of Shanghai
New York Times, October 27th

Since then, Mr. Cranley and his wife, Tina Kanagaratnam (both fluent Mandarin speakers), have become experts in Shanghai's Art Deco era, which lasted from the post-World War I building boom in the 1920s through the mid-1940s. They lead walking tours, ...Read more