Art Deco  

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"Art Deco replaced the sinuous curves of its Art Nouveau predecessor with geometric lines and patterns. It has often been dubbed 'modernism for the masses'." --Sholem Stein

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)

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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.

Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Art Deco was a pastiche of many different styles, sometimes contradictory, united by a desire to be modern. From its outset, Art Deco was influenced by the bold geometric forms of Cubism and the Vienna Secession; the bright colors of Fauvism and of the Ballets Russes; the updated craftsmanship of the furniture of the eras of Louis Philippe I and Louis XVI; and the exotic styles of China and Japan, India, Persia, ancient Egypt and Maya art. It featured rare and expensive materials, such as ebony and ivory, and exquisite craftsmanship. The Chrysler Building and other skyscrapers of New York built during the 1920s and 1930s are monuments of the Art Deco style.

In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, Art Deco became more subdued. New materials arrived, including chrome plating, stainless steel, and plastic. A sleeker form of the style, called Streamline Moderne, appeared in the 1930s; it featured curving forms and smooth, polished surfaces. Art Deco is one of the first truly international styles, but its dominance ended with the beginning of World War II and the rise of the strictly functional and unadorned styles of modern architecture and the International Style of architecture that followed.

Contents

Naming

Art Deco took its name, short for arts décoratifs, from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, though the diverse styles that characterize Art Deco had already appeared in Paris and Brussels before World War I.

The term arts décoratifs was first used in France in 1858; published in the Bulletin de la Société française de photographie. In 1875, furniture designers, textile, jewelry and glass designers, and other craftsmen were officially given the status of artists by the French government. In response to this, the École royale gratuite de dessin (Royal Free School of Design), founded in 1766 under King Louis XVI to train artists and artisans in crafts relating to the fine arts, was renamed the École nationale des arts décoratifs (National School of Decorative Arts). It took its present name of ENSAD (École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs) in 1927.

During the 1925 Exposition, architect Le Corbusier wrote a series of articles about the exhibition for his magazine L'Esprit Nouveau, under the title "1925 EXPO. ARTS. DÉCO.", which were combined into a book, L'art décoratif d'aujourd'hui (Decorative Art Today). The book was a spirited attack on the excesses of the colorful and lavish objects at the Exposition; and on the idea that practical objects such as furniture should not have any decoration at all; his conclusion was that "Modern decoration has no decoration".

The actual phrase art déco did not appear in print until 1966, when it featured in the title of the first modern exhibition on the subject, held by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, Les Années 25 : Art déco, Bauhaus, Stijl, Esprit nouveau, which covered the variety of major styles in the 1920s and 1930s.

Art Deco gained currency as a broadly applied stylistic label in 1968 when historian Bevis Hillier published the first major academic book on the style: Art Deco of the 20s and 30s. Hillier noted that the term was already being used by art dealers and cites The Times (2 November 1966) and an essay named Les Arts Déco in Elle magazine (November 1967) as examples of prior usage. In 1971, Hillier organized an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which he details in his book about it, The World of Art Deco.


History

After the Universal Exposition of 1900, various French artists formed a formal collective known as, La Société des artistes décorateurs (the society of the decorator artists). Founders included Hector Guimard, Eugène Grasset, Raoul Lachenal, Paul Follot, Maurice Dufrene, and Emile Decour. These artists heavily influenced the principles of Art Deco as a whole. This society's purpose was to demonstrate French decorative art's leading position and evolution internationally. They organized the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art), which would feature French art and business interests. Russian artist Vadim Meller was awarded a gold medal for his scenic design there.

The initial movement was called Style Moderne. The term Art Deco was derived from the Exposition of 1925, though it was not until the late 1960s that this term was coined by art historian Bevis Hillier, and popularized by his 1968 book Art Deco of the 20s and 30s. In the summer of 1969, Hillier conceived organizing an exhibition called Art Deco at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which took place from July to September 1971. After this event, interest in Art Deco peaked with the publication of Hillier's 1971 book The World of Art Deco, a record of the exhibition.

Legacy

Art Deco influenced later design styles such as Memphis and Pop art. It also affected postmodern architecture and postmodern design.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Art Deco" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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