Art Deco

Art Deco is a form of Modernism that flourished in the United States and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Art Deco represented the rapid modernization of the world. While the style was already widespread and was in

fashion in the United States and in Europe, the term Art Deco was not known.

Modernistic or the "1925 Style" was used. The origins of Art Deco began two decades earlier in Paris. ´La Societe des artistes decorateursµ or the Decorative Artists Society was founded following the Universal Exposition of 1900. Early members, including architect Hector Guimard, believed in the importance of France·s decorative arts and marketing their achievements for business purposes. These artists also displayed their creations at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris in 1925. However the actual term, 'Art Deco', was first used in 1968 by Bevis Hillier in his book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s. Art Deco was primarily an elegant design style dominant in decorative art, fashion, jewelry, textiles, furniture design, interior decoration, and architecture. It

began as the Modernist follow-up style on Art Nouveau but more simplified and closer to mass production. Different types of wood and precious metals, tortoise shell, lacquer, egg shell, shagreen, leather, aluminum, and zebra skin, stainless steel, lacquer and inlaid wood, a cross-fertilization of styles either imported from colonial empires and the Orient or borrowed from art history, all were the characteristic signs of this exceptional craftsmanship aimed primarily at a rich international clientele. It was an updated look based on very classical forms. It was a style "at once traditional and innovative". (Bayer) The main elements of Art Deco architecture were its nonstructural decorative elements and its focus on modernity. It is characterized by the use of crisp, symmetrical geometric forms. The style is reminiscent of the Precisionist art movement, which developed at about the same time. The structure of Art Deco is based on mathematical geometric shapes. It was widely considered to be an eclectic form of elegant and stylish modernism, being influenced by a variety of sources. The ability to travel and excavations during this time influenced artists and designe rs, integrating several elements from countries not their own. Among them were the so-called "primitive" arts of Africa, as well as historical styles such as Greco-Roman Classicism, and the art of Babylon, Assyria, Ancient Egypt, and Aztec Mexico Much of this could be attributed to the popular interest in archeology in the 1920s (e.g., the tomb of Tutankhamun, Pompeii, the lost city of Troy, etc.). Art Deco also drew on

Machine Age and streamline technologies such as modern aviation, electric lighting, the radio, the ocean liner and the skyscraper for inspiration. Streamline Moderne was the final interwar-period development, which most thoroughly manifests technology and has been rated by some commentators as a separate architectural style. Some historians see Art Deco as a type of or early form of Modernism. Art Deco followed in Art Nouveau's footsteps in that it also paid homage to beauty, but it was a more 'modern' interpretation. The Machine Age was well underway at this time and function became an important requirement again. The rounded, scroll, naturalistic motifs of Nouveau were

replaced with geometric, angular and streamlined chevrons motifs (notice like the zigzags difference and in

designs in the two lamp pictures above). Function was important, but not at the expense of beauty and decoration. Art Deco design influences were expressed in the crystalline and faceted forms of decorative Cubism and Futurism. Other popular themes in Art Deco were trapezoidal, zigzagged, geometric, and jumbled shapes,which can be seen in many early pieces. Art deco was also a product of the fertile artistic exchange between Paris, France, and New York City that occurred after World War I (1914-1918).

American artists, writers, and musicians flocked to Paris after the war and brought with them a fresh approach to creative work. The French, who grounded their art in a firm grasp of tradition, absorbed something of the American spirit of improvisation. Later, American architects who had trained at Paris's École des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts) brought European influence to the design of New York's many art deco skyscrapers. The art deco style remained influential well into the 1940s. Like many design styles that are now considered classic, art deco reflected a key moment in modern cultural history³the age of jazz, streamlined cars, elegant costumes, and those classic early skyscrapers. So the Main Representatives of Art Deco are: Jean Dunan, Tamara de Lempicka, Pierre Legrain, Francois Jourdan, Eileen Gray, Lewis Sue,Paul Jirbe, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Rene Prou, Andre Mane, Armand Albert Rateau, Jacques Emile Ruhlmann, Jean Puiforcat, Georgia O'Keeffe and etc. A founder of the Decorative Artists Society, Hector Guimard (1867-1942) was a French architect famous for designin g modern facades for the entrances to Paris Metro stations during the Art Nouveau movement (1890 -1905). His style was curvilinear, characteristic of Art Nouveau. Among many examples, two American buildings represent Art Deco³New York·s Chrysler Building

and Radio City Music Hall. The Chrysler Building was designed by architect

William Van Alen between 1928 and 1930. He initially worked for William Reynolds (cigarette tycoon), but his plan was later acquired by Walter P. Chrysler (automotive tycoon). For a short time, this 77-story skyscraper dominated the Manhattan skyline and enjoyed fame as the world·s highest building. Radio City Music Hall is a landmark in New York City·s theatre district. The site was leased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and was not id eal for his dream to construct a new Metropolitan Opera House because of the 1929 stock market collapse. In a partnership with Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and S.L. ´Roxyµ Rothafel, Rockefeller constructed the Radio City Music Hall. An unknown designer named Donald Deskey, specialist in carpets and furniture, got the job of decorating the new entertainment hall. His Jazz Age furniture theme is an extant example of Art Deco design. Other Art Deco style furniture adorns the lobbies of the boutique hote ls of South Beach in Miami, Florida. This hotel district was refurbished in the 1980s and has become a hub of international culture. When you walk into a hotel in the Art Deco district, the interior design and the furnishings are true to Art Deco style. Another memorable example of Art Deco architecture in the Big Apple is the 10 building complex of Rockefeller Center. This massive complex takes up six square blocks between Manhattan·s Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue, home of world class shopping. Rockefeller Center is also the home of the annual Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

A three-dimensional example of Art Deco is found in the glass creations of the Frenchman, Rene Lalique. While he was a classic artist of Art Nouveau, he produced a special series of Art Deco glasses and bowls with geometric, floral, and stylized bird decorations. Art Deco was the showcase of a modern society in which tastes and styles were becoming international, shared as much by the key players of the Roaring Twenties in the United States as by Indian maharajahs and the gentry of Old Europe. With its sense of modernity and its simple, elegant style, it has proven itself through its longevity. Art Deco was looked upon poorly throughout the 40s and 50s, but saw a resurgence in the 60s. Similar to the 20s, the mood of the 60s was one of optimism and hopefulness. The economy was steady, pop culture was flourishing and the hippie culture was re-inventing the meaning of liberation. The emergence of modern Pop Art was seen to be reminiscent of Art Deco. The public began to take an interest again in Art Deco and it was during the 1960s that "Deco sites, such as Miami Beach, and key Deco buildings and interiors including the spectacular Rainbow Room in the RCA building i n the Rockefeller Center complex - were stylishly refurbished." The 1980s were all about excess, luxury and status. The "ME" generation glorified real estate tycoons like Donald Trump and the young hot shots of Wall Street. The fashion world's mantra was 'Bigger, Brighter, Bolder'. The Concorde was the premium travel choice of the jet set crowd. The personal computer made its entry into the average home.

The culture of the 1980s was reminiscent of the 1920s in that luxury, leisure and technology were front and centre. And it was during this decade that saw another Art Deco resurgence, particularly in the realm of graphic design. Also, fashion and jewelry silhouettes were influenced heavily by the angular, geometric designs of the Art Deco era. Nightclubs, cocktail bars and hotel lobbies were again emerging as hot spots of the young and affluent. More than anything, the 1980s lifestyle was reminiscent of the hedonistic, pleasure -seeking days of Deco.

Autoportrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti) 1925

Tamara de Lempicka is perhaps the most famous painter of the art deco period. She was born in Poland and moved to Russia where she lived until the Bolsheviks arrested her husband during the Russian Revolution. She secured his release and they fled to Paris. There she enrolled at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere and studying privately. She was quite a prolific artist (in part facilitated by her spare simple style) and was much sought after as a portrait artist. If you are interested in learning more about Tamara deLempicka I highly recommend Passion by Design by her daughter, Kizette deLempicka-Foxhall. Some Works by Tamara de Lempicka :Young Girl With Gloves, Printemps, Portrait of Doctor Boucard, Amethyste, Mother Superior, Portrait of Pierre de Mo ntaut, Girl Sleeping and etc.

The Trapeze (At the Theater Suite), 1983

Ebony and White, 1982

Erte is one of the famous art deco artists. The Russian-born painter Romain de Tirtoff, who called himself Erte after the French pronunciation of his initials, was one of the foremost fashion and stage designers of the early twentieth century. From the sensational silver lame costume, complete with pearl wings and ebony-plumed cap, that he wore to a ball in 1914, to his magical and elega nt designs for the Broadway musical Stardust in 1988, Erte pursued his chosen career with unflagging zest and creativity for almost 80 years. On his death in 1990, he was hailed as the "prince of the music hall" and "a mirror of fashion for 75 years". In Russia art deco wasn·t so popular acpetially after revolution. May be because of not so exitind choese of materials. But architectere was strong. There are a lot of Russian art deco painters, a lot of Russian emigrants that than become rather popular, such as Leon Bakst (Russian Designer/Illustrator), Erte (Russian/French Painter/Designer), Boris Kustodiyev (Russian Painter), Vera Muchina (Russian Sculptor) and etc.

Boris Kustodiyev. Portrait of Fyodor Chaliapin,1922. Nowadays, Art Deco style survives its renovation, it became popular again. ´Machine themeµ won·t die. Today, we can see it in video games production and creation. It gives a game a retro-futuristic feel. Art Deco style can be seen in Shanghai. Art Deco came back as a very popular decorative art. The fascination with Art Deco never seems to go away. Popular Deco destinations like South Beach Miami, New York, Montreal, Havana and Paris are more popular than ever. Art Deco enthusiasts continue to attend annual Art Deco Congresses. Today's celebrities seem to have an obsession with the Deco look -

red lips, sparkling diamonds and all out glamour gowns are a common sight on the red carpet. So many of today's hotels, nightclubs and restaurants are being infused with an Art Deco aesthetic. It seems that we as society have a unquenchable thirst for beauty, glamour and luxury. Art Deco represents hope, optimism and beauty and even during tough economic times, the appeal of Art Deco is hard to ignore. At the end of a long hard day, there's nothing better than a cocktail, a dose of leisure and a huge helping of hope for a brighter future.

1780 words

Bibliography Blondell, Alain & Brugger, Ingirid. (2004) Tamara de Lempicka. Royal Academy Books. 168 pgs. y Claridge, Laura. 1999 Tamara de Lempicka: A Life of Deco and Decadence. ClarksonPotter Publishers. 430 pgs., September 21. y y Charles G Martignette Dr. The Great American Pin-Up (Jumbo Series) Art Deco: 1910-1939, Charlotte Benton,2003 , 464 pgs


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Tania Vasileva
17/05/2010 British higher school of Art and Design Foundation course

Art Deco

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