Art Deco

The term Art Deco as the movement was eventually named, was derived from the French term 'Arts Decoratifs'. The whole affair summed up glamour and decadence between the two Wars. It was a heady world of luxury, characterised by strong, bold images, which incorporated sensuous curves and sleek, angular lines. The impact of its thinking touched almost everything, from furniture to paintings, skyscrapers to factories, everyday household objects, and even to music in the form of Jazz.

Against a background of the Depression, Fascism and Communism, Art Deco flourished and flowered. It emphasised modernity using new materials and techniques to produce some of the most exquisite and exciting objects of the century.

Its artists looked to all sources for inspiration and enlightenment. They combined and added their ideas to give the world something totally new and broke with the past. They were turning over a new leaf to start a new beginning.

Places on entertainment, such as cinemas and theatres, were built and decorated with mirror, gilt and ethnic motifs. Skyscrapers rose in gleaming steel and glass. Tamara de Lempicka painted her overtly, sexually charged images and Coco Chanel designed for the 'free' woman. Verdura and Cartier created fabulous jewels and Ferdinand Preiss and Dimitry Chiparus gave the world exquisitely crafted figures in ivory and bronze. Josephine Baker entertained at the Folies Bergere in the 'flesh' and Busby Berkeley created his musicals on film. Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Josef Hoffmann emerged and both were architects and designers.

Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper brought colour and design to the masses in the form of innovative ceramics. Furniture design was never to look the same again in the hands of Eileen Gray and Jacques-Emile Ruglmann. Rene Lalique experimented with and produced new forms in glass.

Art Deco created an immense impact at the time, and considering that the duration of the actual movement lasted only a short period to the beginning the Second World War, it is amazing that almost half a century after its birth, Art Deco is still with us, and is still one of the most important design periods. It is infact, gaining more and more popularity in this modern world.

We see it all around us - from the great skyscrapers of New York, and the pastel coloured villas and hotels in Miami to the London Underground stations such as Arnos Grove. A visit to the London Zoo will introduce you to the Penquin Pool designed in 1934. If you go to Broadcasting House, or to the Grosvenor Cinema as it was originally named in Rayners Lane or take a close look at the new headquarters of MI6 you can see the influence of Art Deco. We can dine in London at the Michelin Building which was designed by Francois Espinasse. Escaping London, we can see how Art Deco influenced the building of houses on the South Coast.

In fact, a visible feast of Art Deco design still lives and is still there to enjoy.

Interesting links

Art Deco Tours of London
Read about Art Deco in London and see tours by operators who organise Art Deco tours. Lots of other interesting tours on this highly informative site.

Art Deco on Vintage Arts
A great website selling paintings and ceramics including a selection of art deco items.

Art Deco Ceramics Restoration
Repair service specifically provided for all types of Art Deco ceramics, pottery and terracotta.

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