Art Deco

Untraditional Art Deco

If, at first glance, this textile by Thomas Lamb seems to have a mythical and classical reference at its core, that’s because it does. It may seem strange for a mid-1920s textile to embrace Diana the Huntress as its subject matter, when Art Deco, with its focus on skyscrapers and modern materials, was rapidly becoming the style of the age. But don’t be too quick to judge. This textile actually speaks largely to the period from whence it came, including the designer’s use of Diana as his central figure.
Thomas Lamb, Art Deco, Diana the Huntress, mythology

Belle Kogan: Designing a Place for Women in the Field of Industrial Design

In the late 1920s, industrial design began to emerge as a viable field in the United States.  Because of the Great Depression, there was a great deal of competition among companies who were beginning to rely on visual form as a way to sell products. Men dominated the field until Belle Kogan came on the scene in the late 1920s.
Belle Kogan, Reed and Barton, silver-plate, Industrial Design, Art Deco

Capturing a Decade: Thérèse Bonney

Left: Paris, France, ca. 1925. Annual exhibition of the Primavera design department of Au Printemps department store.   Right: Paris, France, ca. 1926. Copper-color painted figure with necklace of diamonds and sapphires by Dusausoy and dress by Callot-Soeurs.         
Thérèse Bonney, Art Deco, photography, Smithsonian Libraries

Mercury's Swift Flight

Hildreth Meière (1892-1961) was a distinguished Art Deco muralist, painter, mosaicist, and decorative artist often applauded for her defiance of normative standards against the professional success of females.  In 1936 she wrote, “It drives me wild to be spoken of as ‘one of the best women artists’. I’ve worked as an equal with men, and my rating as an equal is all that I value.” Indeed, Meière’s artistic achievements gained great attention throughout the art world during her lifetime and continue to be revered today.
Hildreth Meière, design drawing, mural, Mercury, Art Deco

An Anonymous, Yet Patriotic Textile Design

The designer and manufacturer of this textile are unknown, but the subject is telling of the cultural climate that produced it. If I didn’t know its approximate date, I might have guessed it was designed in the 1930s.
Manhattan, Art Deco, New Deal, WPA murals, The Great Depression, Paris Exposition, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Clayton Knight, Ruth Reeves, American, Patriotic, 1930s

Historic Revivalism Meets French Art Deco

In design history as in art history, works are often organized into distinct chronological styles or movements. Such a rigid framework tends to neglect a certain natural fluidity inherent in the evolution of style. For example, 1920s French designs cannot always be simply defined by such broad strokes as Art Deco, Moderne, or Cubism. Many examples from the era notoriously blur those lines, like this woven silk from 1925. This design is the product of a successful dialogue among multiple influences.
Andre Mare, La Compagnie des Arts Français, Louis Sue, Art Deco

Design [R]evolutions: Art Deco to Streamline

In the rush toward modernity after the 1925 Paris Exposition, architectural and domestic metalwork gained prominence in the public eye, exemplifying the "art deco" mode. Using examples from Cooper-Hewitt's collection, curator and art historian Jewel Stern will examine the stylistic transition in metalwork during the late 1920s and 1930s, from the exuberance of the Jazz Age through the Depression, reflecting a new sober aesthetic associated with "streamlining" and a modern classicism.
Art Deco, design revolutions, morse, Lecture, jewel stern

A Timeless Portal

Originally designed and installed in the entrance to the executive office suite of the Chanin Building, this finely crafted pair of gates provide an excellent example of the important role metalwork played in defining the Art Deco style of New York skyscrapers and other buildings built from the mid-1920’s into the early 1940’s.
Chanin Building, Gates, Irwin Chanin, Rene Paul Chambellan, metalwork, Art Deco, skyscraper

A Whole Lot of Pattern Going On

Historically, wallpapers were rarely designed to be used alone, and wallpapers would always have been paired with at least one border. Along with the multiple patterns on the wall it was also fashionable to paper ceilings from about 1850 up into the 1950s. The use of a single wallpaper in a room, or just papering one wall, is a fairly recent notion.
wallpaper, companion, floral, stripe, pattern, Art Deco, French

An Unexpected Creature Fuels the Flames of Tradition

This rhythmic pattern of meandering flames and smoke is one in a series of four woven fabrics, which together represent the four basic elements of nature: earth, water, air and the one depicted here, fire. The Four Elements were a popular theme throughout the history of decorative arts, as seen in this drawing from about 1815. This textile reveals another motif that may be less familiar: the salamander.
Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs, Art Deco, Yvonne Clarinval, Four Elements