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]

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    

Art Deco 1930's Italy "gerdago" Pixie Lady W Celluloid Face Lamp - Frankart EraVintage Film Lamp Industrial Floor Light Eames Art Deco Studio Bauhaus Alessi Antique Pittsburgh Slag Glass Lamp Art Deco Art Deco Girl Lamp Silver & Bronze 1925 Sculpture, Statue Antique SignedlArts&crafts,nouveau,deco Signed Handel "wisteria" Leaded Stained Slag Glass LampArt Deco Sculpture Lamp Statue.girl & Flute "geo Maxim"antique Rare Desk Table Art Deco Modernistic Two Nude Lady Metal Lamp W Skyscraper Shade - Frankart EraJ B Hirsch Gerdago Art Deco Pixie Harlequin Dancer Lamp Glass Ball Marble BaseXxl Bohemian Czech Art Deco Glass Iridescent Glass Large Lamp ShadePair Of Art Deco Lights 1930s Chrome Industrial Milk Glass Lamps LightMica And Brass Lamp Shade Arts And Crafts Art Deco Vintage Amber Butterscotch Bakelite Catalin Art Deco Lamp Base Vintage Art Deco Jadeitefancy Ornate Bridge Floor Lamp Hammered Deco Base Works!C.1930 Art Deco Ronson Art Metal Works Dancing Lady Lamp - Frankart StyleAntique Art Deco Art Nouveau Glass Torchiere Floor Lamp Shade 16" Nr Original Frankart Vintage Art Deco Era Nude Lady Lamp With Green Globe 78417Antique Vintage Art Deco Metal Chrome Tuscan Dc-3 Airplane Desk Lamp LightSet Of 4 Antique Art Deco Polychromed Bronze Electric Wall Sconces Lamps LightsStunning 1930s French Art Deco Bird Sculpture Figural Table LampStylish Art Deco Chrome & Wood Lamp Base, Modernist 20s-30s.C1920 Phoenix Reverse Painted Slag Lamp Art Deco Pittsburgh Pairpoint Handel EraAntique Art Deco Polychromed Sunflower Chandelier Ceiling Light Fixture LampCast Iron Sexy Woman Lady Girl Dressed Black Figure Gothic Table Lamp Art DecoVintage Enrique Molins-balleste Spelter Art Deco Topless Dancer Lamp1930's Ruby Red Glass Art Deco Exit Globe & Fixture Movie Theatre Lamp Shade Vintage Art Deco Classic Winking Man In The Moon Ceramic Wall Lamp Night Light2 Art Deco Bottom Lamp Finials Hanging Pan Slip Shade Chandelier Light Fixture Flashy Vintage C.1930 Art Deco Nouveau Brass Flush Mount Ceiling Fixture LampGothic Colorful Art Deco Ceiling Chandelier Hanging Lamp 5 Light Fixture 1926Handsome Modernist Art Deco Borzoi Wolfhound Lamp Frankart "brain" ShadeArt Nouveau Art Deco Bronze Table Lamp 1915 ~ 1920New Art Deco Era Frankart Figural Nude Pillar Nymph Lamp - SarsaparillaRonson Art Deco...lite A Lamp Table Lighter...1931..rare LighterVintage Art Deco Vaseline/uranium Glass Lamp W/vaseline/uranium Glass Shade Vintage 1930s Deco Flush Mount Smallish Cast Metal 3 Light Ceiling Fixture Lamp Vintage Art Deco Glass Lamp Shade Raised Swag Pattern Set Of 3 Nice Erhard & Sohne Burr Walnut & Brass Lamp Base Jugendstil Art Deco C1910-15Bauhaus Art Deco Brass Table Lamp Clamp Light Hala Wehrkamp / Richter & Co 1935Vintage Art Deco Lamp Copper Toned Finish Elephant Drum Statue Amber Glass Globe1930's Art Deco Nouveau Cleopatra Lamp By Movier:frankart Era Nude2 Antique Vintage Art Deco Art Nouveau Boudoir Lamp Mantel Lights 1987 Giuseppe Armani Florence, Art Deco Lamp - Lady W/peacock, Large Bird*superb Daisy Flowers Design French Art Deco / Art Nouveau Lamp Lampe ShadeStunning Art Deco Pair Of Chrome Plated Candlesticks Poss Lamp Base Conversion Vintage Deco Movie Theater Glass Slip Shade Metal Wall Lamp Sconce Light FixtureDeco Vintage Czech Lamp Pagoda House Glass Flower Roof NrVintage Gold Art Deco Brass Light Ceiling Chandelier Five Lite Lamp Fixture Antique Art Deco Satin Glass Boudoir Vanity Dresser Lamp W Nude WomanArt Deco Lg Brass Bottom Lamp Finial Hanging Pan Chandelier Light Part Vintage/retro Hot Wheels Toy Matchbox Car Lamp Art Deco Style Modern LuciteVintage Pink Glass Czech Art Nouveau/deco Light Lamp Shade "silchrome".Older Art Deco Stained Glass Lamp Shade Replacement Great Colors LqqkArt Deco 1930-40's Red Bakelite Zeppelin In-line Light Switch,table / Desk LampC.1930 Art Deco Ronson Art Metal Works Dancing Lady Lamp - Frankart StyleCastle Creek Victorian Table Lamp Tiffany Style Glass Light Art Deco Bronzed NewVtg Ceiling Light Fixture Hanging Lamp Art Deco Nouveau Cast Iron Victorian GoldArt Deco Red Bullet Shaped Table Lamp Machine Age Italian GocciaMachine Age, Art Deco, Industrial, Mid Century, Upcycle, Vintage Steampunk Lamp Art Deco Gerdago Jester Harliquin Lamp Base Only Perfect Face "as Is"Vintage Art Deco Figural Nude Lady Lamp, Art Nouveau W Art Glass Ruffle Shade