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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Napoleonic, Religious and Art Deco Collections Feature at Kaminski Auctions ...PR Web (press release), May 28th
Three distinctly different collections feature prominently in this unreserved estate auction. The first features significant European and Mexican religious artifacts, the second features a Napoleonic collection, and the third is a collection of Art...Read more
Art deco home has style to spareTheNewsTribune.com, May 26th
Tacoma architect Gaston Lance designed this art deco home on North 6th Street in Tacoma. It was built in approximately 1937. John Vlahovich has owned it for 34 years and now he's selling it for $850,000. Photo taken in Tacoma on Wednesday, May 13, ...Read more
Rare organ at Stockport Plaza restored in time for art deco weekendManchester Evening News, May 25th
This is now complete and it will be an integral part of the Plaza's Art Deco Weekend called Anything Goes: Putting on the 30s at the Plaza. It takes place on June 6 and 7 and includes tours of the theatre, performance from a 10 piece orchestra, film...Read more
Inside the New Hampton Inn at the Art Deco Chicago Motor Club BuildingCurbed Chicago, May 22nd
Originally designed by Holabird and Root and built in 1928, the Chicago Motor Club building—a longtime office building and Art Deco gem that has gone unoccupied since 2004—has recently completed its full renovation to become home to Chicago's new ...Read more
Art Deco: Delhi's Unsung Archi... SHALINI RAIGoogle (press release), May 21st
Art Deco, like its forerunner Art Nouveau, was an eclectic style and drew on many sources. Designers sought to infuse jaded traditions with new life and to create a modern style based on a revitalised decorative language. The word Art Deco derives from...Read more
Rockefeller Center Reconstructs its Spectacular Art Deco Mezzanine and RotundaArchitectural Digest (blog), May 21st
When NBC brought The Tonight Show back to New York last year, with Jimmy Fallon as its new host, the network faced a curious problem—what to do with all the live-audience members before they entered the television studio at Rockefeller Center. For now ...Read more
111-year-old newspaper under Sloane Square flat inspires Art Deco makeoverDaily Mail, May 18th
'However the interior detailing and specification at this beautiful Sloane Square apartment is one of the highest I have ever seen in a London home. 'This apartment is a must see, the marketing photography is superb, but you don't appreciate the...Read more
She's got mail: On a mission to save the city's Art Deco mailboxesCrain's New York Business, May 8th
A clinical psychologist, she is also an amateur photographer with a passion for documenting the city's Art Deco mailboxes. Last year, Art Deco Mailboxes, the book she co-wrote featuring her pictures, was published by W.W. Norton, and she's now speaking...Read more