56 Facts About Art Deco


Art Deco, short for the French Arts Decoratifs, and sometimes just called Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture, and product design, that first appeared in France in the 1910s, and flourished in the United States and Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.

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Art Deco combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials.

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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.

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Art Deco gained currency as a broadly applied stylistic label in 1968 when historian Bevis Hillier published the first major academic book on it, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s.

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Art Deco noted that the term was already being used by art dealers, and cites The Times and an essay named Les Arts Deco in Elle magazine (November 1967) as examples.

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Emergence of Art Deco was closely connected with the rise in status of decorative artists, who until late in the 19th century were considered simply as artisans.

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The early Art Deco style featured luxurious and exotic materials such as ebony, ivory and silk, very bright colours and stylized motifs, particularly baskets and bouquets of flowers of all colours, giving a modernist look.

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Art Deco's Stoclet Palace, in Brussels, was a prototype of the Art Deco style, featuring geometric volumes, symmetry, straight lines, concrete covered with marble plaques, finely-sculpted ornament, and lavish interiors, including mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt.

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Thereafter, the majority of Art Deco buildings were made of reinforced concrete, which gave greater freedom of form and less need for reinforcing pillars and columns.

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At its birth between 1910 and 1914, Art Deco was an explosion of colours, featuring bright and often clashing hues, frequently in floral designs, presented in furniture upholstery, carpets, screens, wallpaper and fabrics.

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Vivid hues of Art Deco came from many sources, including the exotic set designs by Leon Bakst for the Ballets Russes, which caused a sensation in Paris just before World War I Some of the colours were inspired by the earlier Fauvism movement led by Henri Matisse; others by the Orphism of painters such as Sonia Delaunay; others by the movement known as Les Nabis, and in the work of symbolist painter Odilon Redon, who designed fireplace screens and other decorative objects.

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Art Deco was not a single style, but a collection of different and sometimes contradictory styles.

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In 1905 Eugene Grasset wrote and published Methode de Composition Ornementale, Elements Rectilignes, in which he systematically explored the decorative aspects of geometric elements, forms, motifs and their variations, in contrast with (and as a departure from) the undulating Art Nouveau style of Hector Guimard, so popular in Paris a few years earlier.

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Art Deco used the clashing colours and designs of Fauvism, notably in the work of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, inspired the designs of art deco textiles, wallpaper, and painted ceramics.

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Art Deco was associated with both luxury and modernity; it combined very expensive materials and exquisite craftsmanship put into modernistic forms.

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Good example of the luxury style of Art Deco is the boudoir of the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin, designed by Armand-Albert Rateau made between 1922 and 1925.

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Art Deco continues to inspire designers, and is often used in contemporary fashion, jewellery, and toiletries.

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Art Deco's murals were prominent in the decor of the French ocean liner SS Normandie.

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Art Deco's work was purely decorative, designed as a background or accompaniment to other elements of the decor.

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Art Deco's studied under Maurice Denis and Andre Lhote, and borrowed many elements from their styles.

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Art Deco's painted portraits in a realistic, dynamic and colourful Art Deco style.

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One of the best known and certainly the largest public Art Deco sculpture is the Christ the Redeemer by the French sculptor Paul Landowski, completed between 1922 and 1931, located on a mountain top overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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One of the best-known Art Deco salon sculptors was the Romanian-born Demetre Chiparus, who produced colourful small sculptures of dancers.

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Art Deco worked with bronze, marble, ivory, onyx, gold, alabaster and other precious materials.

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Art Deco was not fully recognised for his artistic accomplishments until the age of 67 at the Salon d'Automne of 1922 with the work Ours blanc, known as The White Bear, now in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

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Art Deco style appeared early in the graphic arts, in the years just before World War I It appeared in Paris in the posters and the costume designs of Leon Bakst for the Ballets Russes, and in the catalogues of the fashion designers Paul Poiret.

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In France, popular Art Deco designers included, Charles Loupot and Paul Colin, who became famous for his posters of American singer and dancer Josephine Baker.

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The Federal Art Deco Project hired American artists to create posters to promote tourism and cultural events.

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Art Deco elements appeared in engineering projects, including the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and the intake towers of Hoover Dam.

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Art Deco style was not limited to buildings on land; the ocean liner SS Normandie, whose first voyage was in 1935, featured Art Deco design, including a dining room whose ceiling and decoration were made of glass by Lalique.

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The Art Deco period coincided with the conversion of silent films to sound, and movie companies built large display destinations in major cities to capture the huge audience that came to see movies.

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Between 1910 and 1920, as Art Deco Nouveau was exhausted, design styles saw a return to tradition, particularly in the work of Paul Iribe.

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Art Deco first exhibited his works at the 1913 Autumn Salon, then had his own pavilion, the "House of the Rich Collector", at the 1925 Exposition.

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Art Deco used only most rare and expensive materials, including ebony, mahogany, rosewood, ambon and other exotic woods, decorated with inlays of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, Little pompoms of silk decorated the handles of drawers of the cabinets.

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Art Deco's furniture was based upon 18th-century models, but simplified and reshaped.

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Art Deco introduced the style of lacquered art deco furniture in the late 1920s, and in the late 1930s introduced furniture made of metal with panels of smoked glass.

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Art Deco attacked furniture made only for the rich, and called upon designers to create furniture made with inexpensive materials and modern style, which ordinary people could afford.

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Art Deco designed his own chairs, created to be inexpensive and mass-produced.

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Art Deco used a mixture of traditional and very modern materials, including aluminium, chrome, and bakelite, an early form of plastic.

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Ocean liners adopted a style of Art Deco, known in French as the Style Paquebot, or "Ocean Liner Style".

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Art Deco forms appeared in the clothing of Paul Poiret, Charles Worth and Jean Patou.

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Art Deco designed clothing cut along straight lines and constructed of rectangular motifs.

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Art Deco's styles offered structural simplicity The corseted look and formal styles of the previous period were abandoned, and fashion became more practical, and streamlined.

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Art Deco had made ventures into glass before World War I, designing bottles for the perfumes of Francois Coty, but he did not begin serious production of art glass until after World War I In 1918, at the age of 58, he bought a large glass works in Combs-la-Ville and began to manufacture both artistic and practical glass objects.

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Art Deco treated glass as a form of sculpture, and created statuettes, vases, bowls, lamps and ornaments.

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Art Deco used demi-crystal rather than lead crystal, which was softer and easier to form, though not as lustrous.

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Art Deco sometimes used coloured glass, but more often used opalescent glass, where part or the whole of the outer surface was stained with a wash.

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Art Deco's work was less subtle but more colourful than that of Lalique.

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Louis Majorelle, famous for his Art Nouveau furniture, designed a remarkable Art Deco stained glass window portraying steel workers for the offices of the Acieries de Longwy, a steel mill in Longwy, France.

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Art Deco artists produced a wide variety of practical objects in the Art Deco style, made of industrial materials from traditional wrought iron to chrome-plated steel.

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Art Deco architecture began in Europe, but by 1939 there were examples in large cities on every continent and in almost every country.

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Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, have several notable Art Deco buildings, including the Manchester Unity Building and the former Russell Street Police Headquarters in Melbourne, the Castlemaine Art Museum in Castlemaine, central Victoria and the Grace Building, AWA Tower and Anzac Memorial in Sydney.

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In Canada, surviving Art Deco structures are mainly in the major cities; Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Ontario, and Vancouver.

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In Mexico, the most imposing Art Deco example is interior of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, finished in 1934 with its elaborate decor and murals.

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In Germany two variations of Art Deco flourished in the 1920s and 30s: The Neue Sachlichkeit style and Expressionist architecture.

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Parallelly, the changing political climate in the country and the aspirational quality of the Art Deco aesthetics led to a whole-hearted acceptance of the building style in the city's development.

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