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Art Deco Is a Category of Art Which Encompasses Many Things – Learn More Here

29.03.2021
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You may have heard someone mention or make reference to art deco at some point in your life. Art deco is a term which houses many things within it. In this blog we are going to cover more than you’ll ever need to know about art deco and all it has to offer. We will begin by explaining what art deco design is and then move into a brief history of this era of art. Following this I will specify some common elements of art deco. To finish off this blog I will provide you with some examples to help you even better comprehend the world of art deco. If this is sounding like something that will interest you, keep reading.

What Is Art Deco Design?

definition of art deco

So, what is the definition of art deco? Art deco made itself prevalent in the world of design, architecture and visual arts. The name art deco is short for art décoratifs. The art deco movement was one which combined the characteristics of the modern style with rich materials and fine tuned craftsmanship. Some descriptive words that come to mind when talking about art deco styles are luxurious, glamorous and exuberant. If you are still asking, “what does art deco mean?”, perhaps a brief history on the subject will provide some more clarity.

Brief History of Art Deco

Let’s take some time to discuss the art deco background history. So that being said, what era is art deco considered to be? Well, art deco made its debut just before World War I began in 1914. It held its own throughout WWI as well as following the war during the Great Depression. Although art deco characteristics changed and altered during this span of time, art deco remained the style that people were turning to. It wasn’t until WWII began in 1939. That’s correct, art deco stuck around for around 25 years before it grew old and people needed a change. Where are the art deco origins? This movement began in France and remained prevalent in France for the duration of its popularity.

Elements of Art Deco

What does art deco look like? There are some key characteristics that make art deco stand out from the rest. Here is a list of some of the key features which make art deco, art deco.

  • Influenced by geometry
  • Triangular shapes
  • Zigzag patterns
  • Trapezoidal shapes
  • Straight lines
  • Smooth lines
  • Loud and vibrant colours
  • Sleek features
  • Motifs of sunbursts and sunrises

Now, not all art influenced by art deco have all of these features, however when a few of these are used in tandem, it is quite apparent when a piece of art is from this era. Whether these features were used in design, architecture or visual art pieces, there was a similar sense of style intertwined throughout all of these creations.

Art Deco Examples

Now that we are familiarized with the art deco art style, I would like to introduce to you some of the most recognized and interesting pieces from this era. We will begin by zooming in closer to the world of art deco architectural builds. Following this we will see how visual artists chose to implement these key art deco features into their creations. Finally, we will end our time learning about art deco by focussing on how these art deco aspects were woven into the world of design. Let’s begin shall we.

Art Deco Architecture Examples

In history, we can first begin to see art deco architecture examples make their appearance in 1903 – 1904. The first place we will find any art deco architecture is in Paris, France. Following its birth in France, art deco architecture made a large appearance in the United States. I will divide the architectural builds we will be talking about into different categories: cathedrals, movie palaces and streamline moderne architecture.

art deco architecture examples
Chrysler Building

Cathedrals

  • The Fisher Building (Detroit, Michigan – 1928)
  • Guardian Building (Detroit, Michigan – 1929)
  • 450 Sutter Street (San Francisco, California – 1929)
  • Chrysler Building (New York City, New York – 1930)

Movie Places

art deco styles
Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre
  • Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood, California – 1922)
  • Paramount Theatre (Oakland, California – 1932)
  • Radio City Music Hall (New York City, New York – 1932)
  • Grand Rex (Paris, France – 1932)
  • Gaumont State Cinema (London, United Kingdom – 1937)
  • The Paramount (Shanghai, China – 1933)

Streamline Moderne

  • BBC Broadcasting House (London, United Kingdom – 1931)
  • Pan-Pacific Auditorium (Los Angeles, California – 1936)
  • LaGuardia Airport (New York City, New York – 1937)

These are just a few examples of different architectural builds which incorporate some features from art deco. There are many other buildings still standing today which also fall under the category of art deco architecture. Now let’s move away from architecture and move towards some visual art pieces which were created during this same era.

Art Deco Visual Arts Examples

When dealing with art deco visual arts, we can also divide these pieces into groupings or categories: paintings, sculptures and graphic arts. We will begin by looking at the art deco painting style. Following this we will look into some sculpture pieces with art deco influences. Finally, we will take a moment to learn about the graphic art that was created during this time period.

Painting

art deco painting style
Detail Of Time
  • Detail Of Time by Josep Maria Sert (located in the Rockefeller Centre – New York City, New York, 1941 creation)
  • Workers Sorting The Mail by Reginald Marsh (located in the US Customs House – New York City, New York, 1936 creation)
  • Art In The Tropics by Rockwell Kent (located in the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building – Washington, D.C., 1938 creation)

Sculpture

  • Aluminum Statue Of Ceres by John Storrs (located on the Chicago Board Of Trade Building – Chicago, Illinois, 1930 creation)
  • Prometheus by Paul Manship (located in the Rockefeller Centre – New York City, New York, 1934 creation)
  • Wisdom by Lee Lawrie (located in the the Rockefeller Centre – New York City, New York, 1933 creation)
  • Man Controlling Trade by Michael Lantz (located at the Federal Trade Commission Building – Washington, D.C., 1942 creation)

Graphic Design

art deco design
A Vanity Fair Cover
  • Program for the Ballet Russes (by Léon Bakst, 1912 creation)
  • Deutscher Werkbund Poster (by Peter Behrens, 1914 creation)
  • A Vanity Fair Cover (by Georges Lepape, 1919 creation)
  • Interpretation of Harlem Jazz (by Winold Reiss, 1920 creation)
  • Cover of Harper’s Bazaar (by Erté, 1922 creation)

Again, these are just a few examples of how art deco was used within the realm of visual arts. There are many other artists who were working with similar techniques during these times. It is now the time for us to move away from the visual arts world of art deco and move into our final category for the day, art deco design style. This is one of my favorite categories to talk about, so let’s dive right in.

Art Deco Design Examples

The world of art deco design is quite an exciting one. Similar to our last two categories, I will be dividing our art deco design examples into small sub categories: decorations, furniture, textiles, fashion, glass art and metal art. I hope you enjoy learning about art deco design and style as much as I do.

Decorations

what does art deco look like
Mosaic Facade, Paramount Theatre
  • Iron Fireplace Screen (Rose Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio, 1930)
  • Elevator Doors (Chrysler Building, New York City, New York, 1927)
  • Sunrise Motif (Wisconsin Gas Building, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1930)
  • Mosaic Facade (Paramount Theatre, Oakland, California, 1931)

Furniture

art deco style furniture chair
Chair by Paul Follot
  • Chair by Paul Follot (1912 creation)
  • Armchair by Louis Süe (1912 creation)
  • Cabinet by Ruhlmann (1926 creation)
  • Furniture by Gio Ponti (1927 creation)

Textiles

  • Abundance by André Mare (textile design, 1911 creation)
  • Rose Pattern by André Mare (textile design, 1919 creation)
  • Design Of Birds by Paul Iribe (textile design, 1918 creation)

Fashion

  • Evening Coat by Paul Poiret (silk and metal, 1912 creation)
  • Dress by Jean Patou (seen worn by Desiree Lubovska, 1921 creation)

Glass Art

  • The Firebird by René Lalique (1922 creation)
  • Parrot Vase by René Lalique (1922 creation)
  • Window For Steel Mill Office by Louis Majorelle (1928 creation)
  • Stain Glass Windows by Jean Gaudin (1932 creation)

Metal Art

  • The Pheasants by Paul Kiss (grill with two wings, 1925 creation)
  • Oasis by Edgar Brant (iron and copper grill, 1925 creation)
  • Table Mirror by Franz Hagenauer (glass and metal table, 1930 creation)

As stated for all of the other art deco categories, there are many more art deco design examples that exist, these are just a few of the most popular and commonly known pieces.

Art Deco Summary

Before leaving, here is a quick summary of everything that was shared today. Where did art deco originate? Art deco was first founded in Paris, France just before the commencement of World War I. How long did the essence of art deco hang around for? The characteristic of art deco maintained present in society throughout WWI, throughout the great depression, coming to an end at the beginning of WWII. Although originating in France, the details and characteristics of art deco made a strong appearance in the United States. There are a lot of features which present themselves in many famous buildings in America, especially New York City. Art deco was a movement which was present in the world of architecture, visual arts and design. I hope you found what you learned today to be interesting. Art deco was a rich and extravagant time for the art world. It is nice to experience pieces that were created during this era today.

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