Art Deco Styles and Themes
1925 Exposition, Paris
Art Deco History
“Art Deco, arguably the most popular style of the twentieth century, is indelibly linked to the modern world.” Boston MFA
Art Deco is one of those things you may not be able to define it is but you know it when you see it. Part of the problem is the term “Art Deco.” It does not seem to appear in common usage until 1968 with the publication of Art Deco of the 20s and 30s by Bevis Hillier. The movement started in the early 1900’s with the formation in France of La Société des artistes décorateurs , which was an informal collective of artists in a wide variety of disciplines including many of the prominent artists of the day. The purpose of the society was to promote the dominance of French art. It gained notoriety after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925.
This style is usually lumped into a category of “modernism’ or “post impressionist modern” and only recently discussed as a separate artistic style. It tends to be clean and simple in line and structure and yet it has a distinctive elegance that sets it apart from some of the more simplistic modern styles. It reflects the society of the time in that it embodies many international influences of ancient Egypt (the excavation of the Tomb of King Tut occurred at this time) as well as the emphasis on modern materials such as aluminum and bakelite in many designs. The simplicity of line can be seen in architecture as well as painting and fashion.
There are striking examples of the elegant style of Art Deco in all areas of decorative arts. In architecture, perhaps two of the most famous are the Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building in New York.
Lalique Hood Orniment
Art Deco designs are found in many other areas such as automotive design and furniture. A common element of the style is the elegance of line and composition as shown in these examples.
Of course, the most exquisite examples of the style are probably found in the graphic arts. Painting, photography and sculpture all provided outstanding examples. Here are just two.
While the style is over 75 years old, it still is current and people can identify with its elegance and simplicity in ways that make it relevant to modern styles and fashions.
Today, Art Deco is still very popular and can be found in furniture and all the decorative arts. You will find examples for sale from posters on the inexpensive end through Lalique crystal on the more expensive side. The beauty of the style is unquestioned and at some level nearly everyone will find examples they like.