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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The Douglass Loop was once a treasure trove of Art Deco architectureBroken Sidewalk, March 25th
Beginning in the 1920s, the Art Deco movement spread quickly across the country, typified nationally by the crown of New York City's Chrysler Building. Locally, Louisville once had a sizeable collection of Art Deco buildings, and many of them still...Read more
New exhibit at Flint Institute of Arts to showcase French Art Deco enameled glassMLive.com, March 20th
"Art Deco" is a shortened version of "L'Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes," an international exhibit of architecture and applied arts in Paris in 1925. The term "Art Deco" is used to describe the movement that...Read more
Zoopla's 'most popular property' up for auction after stunning Art Deco ...mirror.co.uk, March 18th
This is the amazing Art Deco home that has failed to sell despite being the most popular home in Wales on property website Zoopla. With it's beautiful bay windows and balconies, the home was viewed by almost 19,000 potential buyers online in just one ...Read more
Maggie Q Dishes on Her "Art Deco" Engagement Ring, Wedding Dress & More ...E! Online, March 17th
So of course we had to get the details on that stunning diamond, and Maggie was game to spill: "I wanted art deco, and I got it. You know, I think we always have to be involved [in ring shopping] in some way—his idea was the marriage and my idea was...Read more
Let's Take One Last Look Back at Philly's "Art Deco Palace"Curbed National, March 16th
Pearl Properties, who bought the Boyd Theater for $4.5 million in October 2014, has begun demolition work at the 1928 Art Deco theater. It is speculated that plans do include the incorporation of the façade into a residential tower at 19th and Chestnut...Read more
Secrets of the art deco Eltham Palace in GreenwichDaily Mail, March 9th
It was the childhood home of Henry VIII but has become just as famous for its more recent colourful residents, who turned Eltham Palace into an Art Deco haven. The wealthy Courtauld family held luxury cocktail parties for royals and politicians in the...Read more
'Deco Japan': You've never seen Art Deco like this beforeDaily Herald, March 5th
The traveling exhibit, distributed by Arts Services International, is the first time Japanese Art Deco has been exhibited outside Japan. It includes more than 200 pieces of evocative, angular, ultimately striking artwork — everything from statues to...Read more
House of the Week | Art deco duplex in Brightwood for $599KWashington Post (blog), February 27th
Described in a 1935 Washington Post Real Estate section article as “Homes Modern” and “homes ahead of their times,” semi-detached duplexes along upper 14th Street in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest Washington were revolutionary in that era: ...Read more