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 pub in Ilkeston to go under hammer
Derby Telegraph, October 10th

A BEAUTIFUL art deco pub in Ilkeston is to go under the hammer later this month. The General Havelock, in Stanton Road, has recently undergone a £200,000 restoration and renovation project. It has a fully equipped catering kitchen as well a large...Read more

A Market Street flatiron with an Art Deco sheen
San Francisco Chronicle (subscription), October 9th

This odd flatiron with a bullet nose flanked by stocky bays survived the 1906 earthquake, then was freshened 25 years later with a thin layer of Art Deco ornamentation — nautical squiggles beneath some windows and a cornice of fanciful hieroglyphics...Read more

The Commodore's art deco Hollywood charm is back Oct. 27 Press, October 9th

The Commodore Bar and Restaurant at 79 Western Ave. N. in St. Paul is set to reopen to the general public Oct. 27. “The original bar was restored and the details were very carefully taken from that original bar and embellished in the spaces adjacent...Read more

The Alluring Art Deco Parkway That Winds Through Connecticut
Atlas Obscura, October 9th

It described the highway's aesthetic as “Art Deco, or Art Moderne, styles of the 1920s and 1930s.” The Library of Congress piled on the Merritt adoration, calling it an “outstanding and largely intact example of the early twentieth-century parkways...Read more

Art Deco properties on the market
MoneyWeek, October 9th

An Art Deco house set on the water's edge with panoramic sea views. It has large floor-to-ceiling windows, a contemporary fireplace, and a roof terrace with a Jacuzzi. 5 beds, 5 baths, 2 receps, landscaped garden, 0.25 acres. €8.5m Knight Frank 020...Read more

Bringing Art Deco Back: The Commodore To Reopen After 30 Years
CBS Local, October 8th

“When the bar opened, it became the most famous of the art deco bars in this part of the country for decades,” owner John Rupp said. The Commodore closed after a gas fire explosion in the 1970s. Amazingly, none of the mirrors in the bar were broken...Read more

Unique Art Deco furniture and design on display in Kaunas
EN DELFI, October 8th

The exhibition "Art Deco Kaunas 1919-1940: Feeling of Home" at Kaunas Garrison Officers Club is dedicated exclusively to the Interwar period Kaunas furniture craft and interior design. Most of the exhibits from the private collections are on display...Read more

ART NOUVEAU vs. ART DECO: A Dipping of the Toes for the Jewelry Novice
KIRO Seattle, September 30th

Art deco emerged around the end of World War I, which was also the tail end of art nouveau and the Edwardian period, giving jewelry a more modernist approach. Art deco would hold its popularity in all aspects of art and architecture until around 1935...Read more