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...

Key terms for Art Deco:

Bakelite: One of several patented early plastic resins (along with Plaskon, Beetle, Catalin, etc.) popular in the 1920s and 30s, which are associated with Art Deco style objects. Invented by Leo Baekeland.

Streamlining: In an effort to make everything from radios to railroad trains look modern, designers tried for a streamlined look, which became ubiquitous during the heyday of Art Deco.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

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]

Decopix

Decopix

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]

Modernism

Modernism

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



Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Style Art Deco Antenna Topper Custom Cruiser 1930's 40'sVintage Style Art Deco Antenna Topper Custom Chrome 1930's 40'sPorsche : 356 Original Deco Trim, Not Repro 356 A Posche Coupe 1959 T 2 Originally Miessen Blue Project Car CompleteNos Vintage Rare Accessory Adjustable License Plate Frame Original 1930s 1940’s Vintage Rare Accessory E&j Edmunds And Jones Type 20 Headlamp Og Hot Rod Scta 32Vintage 1940s Fada Art Deco Old Catalin Bakelite Bullet Radio With No Cracks !!!Rare Vintage Machine Age Art Deco Jakob Bengel Germany Chrome Galalith NecklaceAntique Original Art Deco Green Glass 3 Slip Shade Chandelier Light Lamp FixtureRare Antique Art Nouveau Deco Solid Silver Cicada Insect Brooch PinLady's Art Deco, 14k White Gold, Ruby & Sapphire Estate Ring, Size 4.5Rare 1930 J.m. Fisher Art Deco Parrot Compact Vanity Purse W/carrying ChainVintage 1940s Old Rca Art Deco Ribbon Microphone Bright Red Meatball LogoVintage 1940s Philco Art Deco Old Bakelite Radio Highest Quality Restoration !!!Chevrolet : Other Pickups Standard 1941 Chevrolet Pickup Art Deco Original TruckEstate Art Deco Grade A Natural Jadeite Jade Earrings Imperial Green 8.5tcw. 18kFabulous Butterscotch Bakelite Navy Leather Original 1940's Art Deco Grab Bag.1929 - 31 Vintage Chevrolet Car Radiator Cap Hood Mascot Ornament Viking DecoVintage Art Deco Czech Lapis Blue Glass Dangle Pendant Filigree NecklaceVintage 1930s General Electric Art Deco Old Marbled Catalin Colors Tube Radio1950's Art Deco Glass And Bakelite 8-day Mantle Clock By Smiths. WorkingCrosley Model Cr-38 Sparton Blue Mirror Sleigh Radio-super Art DecoAuthentic Antique Chinese Rug 1910 Art Deco Wool Beauty! Huge Blue 10x17 NrVintage 30's Gold Gilt Brass & Glass Wall Sconce Chandeliers Art Deco Wall LampsGrunow Radio Deco Teledial All Wood Cabinet M-632 C-1937 Original Condition LookPair Antique Original Art Deco Green Glass, Slip Shade Sconce Wall Lights LampsVintage Art-deco Sterling Guilloche Enameled Compact And Lipstick * Very Rare * Original * Art Deco Naked Lady * Twin Candle Shade Lamp *G.e. Radio Deco Bakelite Stunner Postwar Marbled Brown 5 Tube M-100 Working!!Exquisite 1920’s Art Deco Belais 18kt White Gold, Pearl & Jade Pendant EarringsArt Deco 9ct Gold Stone Set Ladies Ring X2Art Deco Carlton Ware Summer Flowers VaseAntique Art Deco Chinese Natural Jadeite Jade Silver Cabochon Ring Signed No ResRare Vintage Art Deco Ktf Trifari Rhodium Plate Crystal Rhinestone BraceletVintage Art Deco Old Mid Century Antique Bakelite Radio & Swirled Catalin ColorsFine Large Art Deco 7 Carat Opal 18k Gold RingVintage 1940s American Rocket Fin Art Deco Antique " Bullet "old MicrophoneArt Deco Platinum Ladies Square Sapphire Band Ring Eternity RingNear Mint Restored Antique Zenith Vintage Bakelite Deco Tube Radio Works Great!Antique Zenith Vintage Tube Radio In Art Deco Console Restored And WorkingArt Deco Western Electric 102 Telephone Antique Phone - 1920'sVintage Mexican Silver Sterling 980 Taxco Art Deco Wide Cuff Bracelet Pair Art Deco Semi-nude Weller Pottery Hobartware Figural Green Wall Pocket Hobart Vintage Art Deco Czech Blue Glass Enamel Pendant NecklaceVintage Art Deco Gillette Safety Razor England 1930s Patent 400621 No 15 Or 47 ?Di-vintage Antique 20s-30s Flapper Deco Black Beaded Rayon Crepe Gown Dress-s/mVintage Art Deco Crosley Model 61 Tombstone Tube RadioAuthentic 19th C Art Deco Chinese Rug 1890's Lustrous Pile Warm Beauty! 9x11 NrRare 1934 Jergens Lotion Dispenser 1 Cent Coin Operated, Art DecoAntique Art Nouveau Deco French Silver Plate Cicada Insect BroochVtg Art Deco Sterling Silver Chrysoprase Marcasite Dangle Drop German EarringsOmega Zodiac Antique 1932 Mens Watch Deco DialThomas Mackenzie Aladdin Arabian Nights 1st 1920 Art Nouveau Deco Kay Nielsen1939 New York Worlds Fair Art Deco Airplane Lamp Cobalt Blue & Chrome ExcellentShell Motor Oil Sign Rare Original Art Deco Vintage Man Cave Not Golden Fleece Antique Rare Enamel Solid Silver Art Deco Match Case 1937 Birmingham Vintage 1930's Art Deco Cherry Red Vauxhall Czech Glass NecklaceVintage Style Art Deco Antenna Topper Custom Cruiser 1930's 40's GreenAntique Edwardian Art Deco Netted Lace Gown Long Flapper Dress Large Vintage1941 Western Electric 302 305 Telephone Antique Rotary Dial Art Deco VintageVintage 1940s Astatic " Brown Biscut " Art Deco Old Harp Harmonica Microphone

Recent News: Art Deco

Source: Google News

Entire Art Deco block of units up for grabs in Manly
The Daily Telegraph, July 31st

AN Art Deco block of six units coming to market for the first time in half a century is the headline listing for the northern beaches this weekend. The three-storey block at 14 Osborne Rd has a guide price around $4 million for its on-site auction on...Read more

Iconic art deco clock removed from Golden Gate Bridge during toll plaza ...
Marin Independent Journal, July 31st

Workers removed the iconic art deco clock from the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza Thursday in preparation for the installation of a moveable median barrier. The clock will return to the toll plaza in October once construction work has been completed...Read more

Tulsa's dazzling art deco
Houston Chronicle, July 31st

New York, Miami Beach and Los Angeles usually are the first cities that to come to mind when one thinks of art deco architecture. But Tulsa? It may come as a surprise, but Tulsa ranks among the top eight concentrations of art deco buildings nationally...Read more

Milwaukee Architecture
urbanmilwaukee, July 30th

Prior to this the Art Deco movement was referred to as the “style moderne,” itself a misnomer because it is comprised of three related schools: zigzag moderne, streamline moderne, and classical moderne. However, these categories do help illuminate...Read more

Spencer Street, West Melbourne residential site offering with art deco facade
Property Observer, July 29th

The much-offered, much altered 420 Spencer Street residential development project site, on the western gateway to Melbourne's CBD, has been relisted for sale. The West Melbourne offering now comes with approval for a 438 unit, 38 level tower designed ...Read more

Miami Icons: The Colony Hotel, the Most Famous Art Deco Building on Ocean ...
Miami New Times (blog), July 29th

And even if the ideas and attitudes towards South Beach that locals and tourists hold don't exactly match up, nobody can contend that the Art Deco architecture is an intrinsic part of the Beach's personality as a city. Most of that style was designed...Read more

First look: Grandpa Johnson's, an Art Deco cocktail lounge now open in Hollywood
Los Angeles Times, July 25th

It's late in the afternoon Thursday and L.A. nightlife veteran Johnny Zander is squinting in the bright sunlight, standing in the doorway to his latest Hollywood venture, Grandpa Johnson's. From the street it looks like a closed vintage jewelry store...Read more

Hotel Review: Pestana South Beach Art Deco Hotel in Miami Beach
New York Times, July 25th

The Pestana South Beach Art Deco Hotel is the first foray into the United States by the Portuguese Pestana Hotels & Resorts group, opening in Miami in April 2013. This property, with 97 rooms as well as two two-bedroom suites spread over four gleaming ...Read more