1920s Paris  

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Josephine Baker dancing the charleston at the Folies Bergère in Paris for La Revue nègre in 1926. Notice the art deco background. (Photo by Walery)
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Josephine Baker dancing the charleston at the Folies Bergère in Paris for La Revue nègre in 1926. Notice the art deco background.
(Photo by Walery)
Inversions, the first French gay journal is published between 1924 and 1926, it stopped publication after the French government charged the publishers with "Outrage aux bonnes mœurs".  Its full title was Inversions ... in art, literature, philosophy and science. Sexual inversion was a term used by sexologists in the late 19th and early 20th century, to refer to homosexuality.
Enlarge
Inversions, the first French gay journal is published between 1924 and 1926, it stopped publication after the French government charged the publishers with "Outrage aux bonnes mœurs". Its full title was Inversions ... in art, literature, philosophy and science. Sexual inversion was a term used by sexologists in the late 19th and early 20th century, to refer to homosexuality.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Golden Twenties

After World War I, Paris emerged into an energetic but restless interwar period, enlivened by the arrival of glamorous émigrés such as Joséphine Baker. It was a troubled political period, however, especially when the Great Depression hit Paris.

Contents

Nomenclature

The period is also known as Les Années Folles, corresponding with the Roaring Twenties in the Anglosphere.

Montparnasse and Montmartre

Like its counterpart Montmartre in the mid-19th century, Montparnasse became famous at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was the heart of intellectual and artistic life in Paris. In the 1920s, Paris was the center of modernism in art and literature; as Gertrude Stein remarked, "Paris was where the twentieth century was."

Surrealism

From the Dada activities of World War I Surrealism was formed with the most important center of the movement in Paris and from the 1920s spreading around the globe, impacting many other fields.

In May 1917, Guillaume Apollinaire had coined the term "Surrealism" in the program notes describing the ballet Parade which was a collaborative work by Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Pablo Picasso and Léonide Massine:

"From this new alliance, for until now stage sets and costumes on one side and choreography on the other had only a sham bond between them, there has come about, in Parade, a kind of super-realism ('sur-réalisme'), in which I see the starting point of a series of manifestations of this new spirit ('esprit nouveau')."

American immigrants: The Lost Generation

American writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein settled in Paris.

By the 1920s, Gertrude Stein's salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus, with walls covered by avant-garde paintings, attracted many of the great artists and writers including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Henri Matisse, Sherwood Anderson, and Guillaume Apollinaire. She coined the term "Lost Generation" for some of these expatriate American writers. During this time she became friends with writer Mina Loy, and the two would remain lifelong friends. Extremely charming, eloquent, and cheerful, she had a large circle of friends and tirelessly promoted herself. Her judgments in literature and art were highly influential.

Negrophilia

African-American expatriation to Paris also boomed after World War I, beginning with black American veterans who preferred the subtler racism of Paris to the oppressive racism and segregation in the United States, which often involved lynchings in the American South. In the 1920s African-American writers, artists, and musicians arrived in Paris and popularized jazz in Parisian nightclubs, a time when Montmartre was know as "the Harlem of Paris." Some notable African-American expatriates from the 1920s onward included Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker.

1920s Paris saw a craze for all things African, now known as Negrophilia. Collecting African art, listening to jazz and to dancing the Charleston, the Lindy Hop or the Black Bottom, was a sign of being modern and fashionable. Sources of inspiration were inanimate African art objects (l'art nègre) that found their way into Paris as a result of colonial trade with Africa as well as live performances by African-Americans many of whom were ex-soldiers remaining in European cities after the First World War who turned to entertainment for a source of income. Perhaps the most popular revue and entertainer during this time was La Revue nègre (1925) starring Josephine Baker.

La 'garçonne', the French flapper

As a result of French fashions, especially those pioneered by Coco Chanel, the effect on dress of the rapid spread of American jazz, and the popularization of dancing that accompanied it, the flapper was born. Called garçonne in French ("boy" with a feminine suffix), flapper style made girls look young and boyish: short hair, flattened breasts, and straight waists accentuated it. By at least 1913, the association between slim adolescence and a certain characteristic look became fixed in the public's mind.

Art Deco replaces Art Nouveau

Art Deco replaces the sinuous curves of its Art Nouveau predecessor with geometric lines and patterns. The 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes introduced the new style to the world. The initial movement was called Style Moderne. The term Art Deco was not coined until the late 1960s.

In fiction

Nightclubs, bars and brothels

See also




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