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]

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]

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]

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]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [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

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1938-40 Art Deco Lamp Chrome Dc-3 Airplane Bar Drink Table Cigar Ashtray Stand Antique Frankart Art Deco Standing Nude Lamp * Mod. L 206 *working*5 Day ListingCrystal Lamp Diamond Cut Art Deco Vintage Large Mushroom ShapeVintage Art Deco Walnut Chair Side End Lamp Light Table Floor Tube RadioRare 1930 's 1940 Vintage Hot Rod Auto Lamp Art Deco Headlights Electroline SctaAntique Art Deco Ceiling Light Fixture Mission Crafts Lamp Vtg 4 Glass Shade &Original Vintage 1939 Ny Worlds Fair Art Deco Airplane Lamp Restored ExcellentVintage Rare Original French Art Deco 'balloon Dancer' Lamp, Signed BallesteVtg Retro 40s 50s Mid Century Art Deco Wood Yacht Sail Boat Table Lamp & ShadeVintage Film Movie Light Antique Art Deco Silver Alessi Floor Lamp Eames Theatre1920s Art Deco Czech Glass Lamp End Of Day Mosaic Boudoir Millefiori PaperweightVintage Art Deco Nuart Sitting Nude Lady Spelter Lamp Base Circa 1930 For RepairCa.1925 Antique Art Deco Era Arabian Old Desert Camel Figural Parlor Statue LampArt Deco Half Doll Porcelain Lamp Figurine With Rose.Art Deco Accent Lamp Nude Flapper Girl Frankart Era Lady Figural Antique VintageRare Vintage 1950s Film Lamp Art Deco Floor Light Eames Bauhaus Studio Cinema Vintage Art Deco Oak Standard Lamp Stepped Base Paul Frankl Skyscraper ModernistArt Deco Vintage Nude Lady Lamp Bronzed Spelter Leadlight Slag Glass Shade PairAntique Vintage Art Deco 1930’s Chandelier Ceiling Light Pendant Fixture Lamp Vintage Antique Art Deco Green Slag Glass Tulip/lily Lamp Circa 1930's* Very Rare * Original * Art Deco Naked Lady * Twin Candle Shade Lamp *Pair Of Antique 1920's Art Deco Wall Sconce Lights Lamps For RestorationAntique Vintage Art Deco Nuart Era Triple Elephant Amber Art Glass Shade LampAntique Screaming Art Deco Bridge Floor Lamp ~ Original Paint ~ Cast IronAntique Art Deco Slip Glass Shade Chandelier Ceiling Fixture Light Lamp ReserveAntique Art Deco Nouveau Van Briggle Pottery Matte Blue Nude Cherub Figure LampVintage Art Deco Bohemian Czech Moser Fruit Art Glass Lamp1920s Art Deco Era Real Abalone Conch Sea Shell Lamp ShadeAntique Vtg European Small Art Deco Table Desk Lamp W/ Alabaster Shade & BulbArt Deco Consolidated Martele Glass Lamp Shade Modernizer By Reuben HaleyPair Of Bakelite Lamps Vintage Vanity Bedside Table Lamp Art Deco CarvedVtg Riddle Mfg.co.3 Bulb Art Deco Flush Mount Ceiling Light Fixture Lamp 12"1920 Art Deco Female Nude Boudoir Brass Lamp NrArt Deco Three Nudes Metal LampHtf Alacite Figural Pheasant Egret Deco Aladdin Mantle Lamp Electric Bird FinialAntique Empire Art Deco Bronze Floor Lamp 3 Light Fringed Velvet Shade C. 1920Vintage Art Deco Polychromed Signed Riddle Ceiling Light Fixture Chandelier LampVintage La Gerbe D'or Paris French Art Deco Marble Mantle Clock Garniture LampsVintage Cobalt Blue Glass & Chrome Airplane Dc 3 Lamp Art Deco DesignVintage Cast Iron Electric Lamp Base Green Glass Accent Art Deco Design Art Deco 1930's Nuart Nude Lady Lamp With Ashtray1930s Art Deco Nuart Creations Nude Lady Lamp Art Deco Frankart Era Antique Spelter Cold Painted Bronze Style Camel Lamp 1920's DecoAntique Vintage French Deco Basket Style Crystal Chandelier Lamp 1940s 16in DmtrVintage Deco Machine Age 14" Aluminum Side Table LampArt Deco Space Age Rocket Ship Table Red Lighter Beam Lamp Eames Era Zenza BroniAntique Vtg Art Deco Nouveau Lamp Light Floral Design 3 Socket 1920s Milk ShadeFulper Vintage Art Deco Figural Porcelain Ballerina Fragrance Aromatherapy Lamp Art Deco White Chrome Wall Sconce Light Lamp Machine Age Eames Milk GlassC1930's Art Deco Moving Water By Mountain Motion LampFrench Art Deco Spelter "golfer"table Lamp C1920'sVintage Art Deco Chandelier Ceiling Cast Metal 3 Light Lamp Fixture LevitonLot Antique Vintage Cast Iron Art Deco Light Lamp Bases Steampunk Bracket PartsVery Rare Strombecker Miniature Dollhouse Art Deco Mod Wooden Lamp ARare Art Deco Art Nouveau Table Lamp Lady Woman Girl Statue Victorian VintageThe Archer, A Striking Authentic Art Deco Figural Lamp - Real AntiqueSuperb Art Deco Mottled Blue Glass Ceiling Or Table Lamp Shade Vtg Mermaid Lamp - Art Deco Design Molded Pottery - Oh Lighting - Desk Top NudeArt Deco Vintage Dresser Lamps Art Deco Finial For Slip Shade Lamp