When we think of Art Deco, we typically conjure images of streamlined architectural masterpieces like the Chrysler Building, sleek Ruhlmann furniture, or locomotive engines designed by Raymond Loewy. The lines are predominantly straight, the shapes tend to be symmetrical, and the overall appearance is one of elegant efficiency.

But there’s another, more sensuous side to Art Deco, especially in the lamps created during the 1920s and ’30s. In these decorative objects, nude female figurines stand or recline alongside illuminated globes. Many of these Art Deco lamps, on bases that ranged from alabaster to marble, were openly erotic, taking their visual cues from the showgirl culture of the Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre district of Paris. Indeed, some of these figures rendered in bronze and gilded metal might as well have been modeled after the great Josephine Baker.

One well-known designer of these lamps was A.R. Gerdago, who was famous for his Pixie lamps, in which bronze harlequins appeared to play hacky sack with millefiori globes. The Spaniard Enrique Molins Balleste was another prominent Art Deco artist. He made a name for himself in Paris, where he produced female figurines in a zinc alloy called spelter, which were then gilded in silver or gold (frosted glass was a typical Balleste choice for his lamp’s globes).

In the United States, Ronson Art Metal Works of New York produced Art Deco figural lamps with Egyptian themes. Ronson’s Egyptian Moon lamp is one of numerous lamps from the period to mine that mythical terrain—some depicted Cleopatra herself. Even Aladdin got into the act, creating Art Deco lamps whose glass bases were graced by female forms that were not too subtly lifted from the sketchbooks of René Lalique.

Of course, lamps with unclad women were not the only sorts of light fixtures produced during Art Deco. Animals were also common, singly or in pairs—gazelles were especially popular. In an assignment for Sheaffer pens, designer Norman Bel Geddes made lamps that vaguely resembled cobras. Then there were the geometric lamps, whose shades suggested Mayan pyramids, with their rows upon rows of staggered steps.

Finally, Frankart lamps combined both Art Deco impulses. For Frankart’s main sculptor and designer, Arthur von Frankenberg, it was not uncommon to combine nude female figurines with skyscraper-inspired or crystalline-shaped shades. Sometimes a lone green figure would hold a flying-saucer-like disc of frosted glass; other times pairs of figurines combined forces to lift a cylinder or rectangle of soft light high into the air.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Lampworks

The Lampworks

Lamp collector and dealer Dan Edminster has put together an incredible reference site on antique lamps and related … [read review or visit site]

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]

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Mark Stevens has created an impressive living memorial to Texans Inc., a 20th century Texas manufacturer of ceramic… [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]

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

Bruce Bleier's tribute to the Emeralite and Bellova lampshades made from Czech glass and popularized and distribute… [read review or visit site]

Fairy Lamp Club

Fairy Lamp Club

This incredible site is a stunning showcase for Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps, a style of lamp with a glas… [read review or visit site]

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Terry Marsh’s beautiful showcase of gas-pressure lanterns, lamps, stoves, irons, and heaters from the 1920s o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Original Vintage 1930`s Art Deco Saturn Painted Glass Table LampAntique **art Deco** Nude Lady Table-top Lamp Frankart?? Large Art Deco Lamp, 1930s Chrome, Bakelite Catalin - Czech Antique Glass ShadeSuper Rare Art Deco Saturn Lamp. 1940s Australian Made. Rewired And Working. Antique **art Deco** Lady Table-top Lamp Art Deco Original Large Spelter Lady LampArt Deco Saturn Lamp - Machine Age - Bakelite, Cobolt Blue, Skyscraper ShadeAmber Catalin Lamp Marble Art Deco 720 G.Vintage 30s 40s Art Deco Ceiling Lamp Pendant Light Glass Mid Century Antique Art Deco Era Lady Dancer Statue Figural Beehive Old Glass Boudoir LampVintage Art Deco Victorian Style Matching Pair Ceiling Light Fixture LampArt Deco Nouveau Vintage Spelter Lamp Nude Maiden Nymph Woman Glass Flame ShadeArt Deco Egyptian Lamp And Incense Burner Beautiful Art Deco Nude Figurine Lamp Base, 1920s-30s. Vintage, Antique.1930s Art Deco Green Glass Lamp Skyscraper Design W/stepped Square Base Beautiful Art Deco Nude Figurine Lamp Base, 1920s-30s. Vintage, Antique.Antique Rainaud Bent Slag Glass Panel Lamp Signed On Base Art Deco Victorian Pair Antique Brass Art Deco Tudor Spanish Mission Theater Wall Sconces Lamps #2Original Art Deco Chrome Lamp & Flame Glass ShadePair Cast Brass Art Deco Wall Sconces No Shades Not Wired Good Lamp Project Pr Vintage Antique Art Deco Wall Slip Shade Lamp Fixtures Sconces Original Art Deco Cold Painted Spelter Lady Figure LampVintage Art Deco Chrome Finish Table Lamp Base (needs Rewiring) Column Rare Vintage Theater Fire Exit Globe Light Art Deco Lamp Antique Retro Movie Vtg Pr Art Deco Miller Kem Weber Style Pagoda Shade Table Floor LampsOld French Oil Lamp With Deco FigureVintage Rex Electric Industrial Cast Iron Deco Goose Neck Lamp"it Is What It Is" Home Art Deco Wall Lamp Poster Nascar Neon Light Sign 12"x5"Modern Industrial Ceiling Lamp Design Metal Pendant Light Black Chandelier DecoPair Antique Brass Art Deco Tudor Spanish Mission Theater Wall Sconces LampsPair Vintage Art Deco Bullet Torpedo Table Boudoir Lamps Mid Century Or Early*no Reserve* Antique 1920s Art Deco Machine Industrial Age Skyscraper Table LampVintage 1920s 30s Cast Iron Bridge Lamp Arm Sailing Ship Nautical Deco NouveauOriginal 1920s Antique Art Deco Mica Leaded Floor Or Table Lamp ShadeUnusual Antique 1930's Cast Iron Art Deco Peacock Radio / Tv Lamp A.w. ReiserLamp Shades White Glass Art Deco Chandelier Antique Vintage Replacement Set Of 5Mid Century Art Deco Table Lamp Deep Purple Glass Shade, Stags-needs RepairVintage Art Deco Machine Age Desk Lamp With CalendarRare Vintage Art Deco Nude Nymph Wall Sconce Lamp Sarsaparilla Frankart Vintage Machine Age Deco Desk Lamp1930s Set Of 3 Signed Degue French Art Deco Frosted Art Glass Lamp ShadesPair Antique Riddle Art Deco Wall Sconces Two Lamp Light Fixtures Ornate Antique Vintage Art Deco Glass Lamp Finial Light PartArt Deco Dark Cherry Marbled Veined Bakelite Catalin Ashtray Lamp Parts 460 Gram"it Is What It Is" Home Art Deco Wall Lamp Poster Corona Neon Light Sign 12"x5"Vintage Art-deco Brass Finish Banker's Desk Lamp All Original - Work's Exc!Vintage Style Industrial Diy Glass Ceiling Lamp Bar Cafe Fixture Chandelier DecoFixture Ceiling Lamp Retro Industrial Iron Vintage Chandelier Pendant Light DecoEileen Gray Bureau Table Lamp Jumo Art Deco Modernist Bauhaus 30s 1940s 50s EraAntique Slag Glass Lamp Square Deco Shade, Blue, Cream, Egyption, Camels, Palms Vintage Aladdin Genie Lava Lamp Light Retro Art-deco Red/gold All OriginalVtg Deco Milk Glass Acorn Pendant Hanging Ceiling Lamp Light Shade SchoolhouseVintage Bridge Floor Lamp Base Art Deco Rembrandt PartVintage White Milk Glass Art Deco Wall Sconce Lamp Shade Empire ShellAntique Rare Art Deco Cast Iron Spacer Floor Lamp Light Base Parts RestoreArt Deco Glass Hanging Lamp Shade 2-3/16" Fitter Vintage Roses White Milk GlassAntique Eagle Brand Art Deco Adjustable Desk Lamp Gooseneck LightVtg Pr Art Deco Miller Kem Weber Style Pagoda Shade Table Floor LampsVintage 1930's Art Deco Markel B924 Lamp 5 Fixture With 3 Amber Slip ShadesAntique Rare Cast Iron Art Deco Spacer Floor Lamp Light Spacer Part Restore