Art Deco Art and Architecture Movement: History, Characteristics, Artists

Art Deco Art and Architecture MovementArt Deco was a style marked by bold colors and daring geometry that produced opulent and intricate artwork. The Art Deco style is especially reminiscent of Ancient Egyptian aesthetics. This is shown by the use of simple geometric forms, fields of unblended color, symmetry, and a focus on line, as Art Deco artists sought to establish a truly international style. Art Deco debuted in France shortly before the outbreak of World War I. This movement was revealed to the public for the first time in 1925, during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which was loosely modeled on the idea of the World’s Fair. After its introduction in Paris, the Art Deco style immediately attracted worldwide attention by using diverse materials and influencing several sectors, including the visual and decorative arts, architecture, cinematic design, and product design.

The Art Deco style embodied the modernist ideal translated into high fashion.Some of the most famous structures in the United States, such as the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, are architectural examples of the Art Deco style and motifs. Often confused with Art Moderne, the Art Deco style was characterized as modernist. Its commodities ranged from hand-made to mass-produced, but the Art Deco artists designed all of them to aim toward a modern fashion elegance that stood as a symbol of affluence and refinement. As a result of the austerity of the Second World War and the perception that the style was ever-gaudy and decadent, Art Deco lost popularity in both Europe and North America.

The Art Deco style showed itself throughout the visual arts spectrum, from architecture and painting to sculpture and graphic design. While Art Deco practitioners often acknowledged modernist inspirations such as Cubism, De Stijl, and Futurism, the allusions were indirect; it was as if they were constructing a new style that was physically appealing but not intellectually menacing. Originating in Paris, the Art Deco style has affected architecture and culture worldwide. Art Deco works are symmetrical, geometric, streamlined, often straightforward, and aesthetically pleasant. This aesthetic contrasts with the period’s avant-garde art, which pushed common audiences to discover meaning and beauty in pictures and shapes that were sometimes unabashedly anti-traditional.

Major Art Deco artists include: French designer René Lalique, one of the world’s most well-known glass art designers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, American architect William Van Alen, Russian-born French artist Sonia Delaunay, and Tamara de Lempicka.

Major artworks associated with the Art Deco style include: Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France by A.M. Cassandre, Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti by Tamara de Lempicka, Young Lady with Gloves by Tamara de Lempicka , Tipsy by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, and Rythme by Sonia Delaunay.

The Great Depression rendered solely decorative designs and exotic materials irrelevant, if not unpleasant. In 1937 came the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. Its focus on science and technology signaled the end of the Art Deco period, even if accidental. Since the 1960s, there has been a consistent and enduring interest in the style. Art Deco is reflected in Mid-Century Modern design, which builds on the streamlined look of Deco and revisits the Bauhaus’s clear simplicity. Additionally, Deco influenced the 1980s Milan-based Memphis Group design and architectural movement. Memphis also inspired its vibrant, deliberately contemporary style from Pop art and Kitsch.

History of Art Deco Movement

Art Deco originated in France during the 1920s, getting its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industries Modernes. During the years of the Second World War in Europe and North America, Art Deco went out of favor, as the austerity of wartime made the style seem increasingly more ostentatious and decadent. In place of beautifying structures or interior spaces, metals were reclaimed for use in the production of weapons. No longer were furnishings seen as status symbols. Further technical advancements enabled cheaper manufacture of essential consumer goods, eliminating the need for and need for Art Deco designers.

There has been a consistent, ongoing interest in the style since the 1960s. Mid-Century Modern design, which revives the pure simplicity of the Bauhaus and continues forth the Deco aesthetic’s streamlined style, has echoes of Art Deco. The Memphis Group, a design and architectural movement headquartered in Milan in the 1980s, was also influenced by Art Deco.

Beginning of Art Deco Movement

In 1902, Turin hosted the first international exhibition dedicated only to the decorative arts, the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa Moderna. Several new decorative arts periodicals, notably Arts et décoration and L’Art décoratif moderne, were created in Paris. The Sociéte des artists français included decorative arts sections into its yearly salons, and subsequently the Salon d’Automne.

Before World War One, the Art Deco style originated and became popular in France. However, the public was first made aware of this trend in 1925 during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which was partly based on the idea of the World’s Fair. This group was composed of prominent personalities in the art world, such as the Art Nouveau designer and printer Eugene Grasset and the Art Nouveau architect Hector Grimard. This group attracted more aspiring decorators who contributed to the evolution of its look. The French government showed extraordinary support for this art and contributed to its expansion. The Industrial Revolution’s impacts motivated artists to create a look representing tastefulness, advancement, and modernity. The Art Deco movement again recovered France’s standing as a top producer of decorative style arts.

With the use of pricey materials, the Salon, or Société des artists décorateurs in France, developed furniture, decorative objects, interiors, and art that increased the regard for everyday art objects. One of the Art Deco movement’s main objectives was to alter the visual arts’ hierarchical structure, which gave decorative artists a lesser position than the more established painting and sculpture fields. The Art Deco style diverged from the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements, emphasizing the individuality of handcrafted goods and organic, flowing shapes. Making visually beautiful, manufactured goods accessible to everyone was Art Deco’s more just goal. The primary attribute of the Art Deco design aesthetic was its unwavering enthusiasm for the idea of modern technology as well as the development of equipment.

The Exposition International des Arts Decorates et Industrials Moderns – The Exhibition That Started the Art Deco Movement

The Exposition International des Arts Decorates et Industrials Moderns, which the French government held, is credited with popularizing the Art Deco style. At this show, which lasted seven months and included works by more than 15,000 artists, architects, and designers, nearly 16 million visitors from all over the globe came to see the unique exhibitions. Therefore, this show was believed to be the spark that ignited the Art Deco style. As a result of the exhibition’s overwhelming popularity and high attendance, Art Deco design became well-known across art history. The collection also inspired the movement’s official name, Arts Decorates. The popularity of Art Deco spread to South America.

Art Deco is one of the historical movements that gradually broadened the idea of art to include objects like glassware and jewelry as well as painting and sculpture. Art Deco household items that had not previously been regarded as fine arts were now seen as works of art rather than the work of artisans. Even the intricate wallpapers with geometric patterns were regarded as works of art. In the 1920s, Art Deco was a prominent style trend that contrasted with the Bauhaus and De Stijl traditional, cleaner, and restrained forms.

Rise and Development of Art Deco movement

Art Deco Furniture

Art Deco furniture was characterized by its unusual materials and geometric shapes, such as folding screens made of exotic woods, metallic textiles, stained glass, cocktail cabinets, decorative lighting, and sharp angles. Exotic wood, violet wood, Amboyna burl, Macassar ebony, mahogany lacquer, wood inlay, marquetry, metal, and leather were used to create pieces with bright hues and high-end finishes. Onyx, mirrors, jade, ivory, and Murano glass were used to develop opulent decorations and accents. It wasn’t easy to mass-produce furniture due to the high cost of the materials. Donald Deskey’s interior design of New York City’s famous landmark, Radio City Music Hall, is an excellent example of American Art Deco furniture design which is still intact in its original form today.

 

Radio City Music Hall Interior
Radio City Music Hall Interior

Art Deco Architecture

The Art Deco architectural movement was the most influential branch of this movement since it gave rise to some of the most recognizable contemporary public structures in American cities to this day. These include the magnificent Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the Rockefeller Center, all of which were constructed in New York City. Metal elements highlight the hard-edged, opulently decorated designs of the Art Deco architectural style. A hotbed for spectacular Art Deco buildings is particularly New York City.

Even American companies like General Motors and Ford constructed pavilions at the New York World’s Fair. The most well-known examples of the American Art Deco style are skyscrapers and other major structures. Most Art Deco buildings in American cities emphasize geometric shapes vertically to pull the attention upward. To give public buildings a streamlined appearance, rectangular, block-like forms are grouped geometrically with rooftop spires and curved decorative embellishments. Among the most well-known American examples are the towers in New York and the pastel-colored structures in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District.

Many important structures in New York were constructed during the height of the Art Deco movement, including the famed Chrysler Building, which Van Alen designed in the late 1920s and finished in 1930 and altered the city’s skyline. The Daily Express Building and residential structures are two more well-known examples of Art Deco architecture. The Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, is another notable example of Art Deco architecture.

In New York, the Midland Grand Hotel and Radio City Music Hall are other well-known examples of Art Deco architecture. The Houston City Hall, the JP Morgan Chase Building, and the 1940 Air Terminal Museum are examples of Texas’ Art Deco buildings.

Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

Art Deco Paintings and Graphic Design

Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka sometimes referred to as the “Painting Baroness,” rose to prominence as one of the key figures in the Art Deco movement. She used synthetic cubism, a period that experimented with textures, patterns, and collages, in her approach. She also included Art Deco elements that used tactics from commercial photography, such as line prioritizing and subject lighting or focus angles. The Self-Portrait in the Green Bugatti personifies Art Deco, modernity, and progress. The contemporary car’s angular form and Lempicka’s opulent dress symbolize Art Deco.

Tamara de Lempicka, self-portrait in a Green Bugatti, 1929.
Tamara de Lempicka, self-portrait in a Green Bugatti, 1929.

 

Art Deco Film and Literature

Filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic designer, painter, and sometimes film producer and actor Fritz Lang, a German-Austrian, directed Metropolis, one of the most well-known movies of that era that Art Deco greatly inspired. The aesthetic and conceptual components of Metropolis heavily reference the Art Deco style. Metropolis’ artwork undoubtedly reflects the influence of Art Deco, and Lang’s use of this movement’s formal vocabulary significantly impacted the style’s acceptance in Europe and America.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book The Great Gatsby is a masterful depiction of the self-indulgent extravagance, decadence, wealth, glamor, and forward-thinking in 20s America.

The Great Gatsby Cover

 

The Fade-Out

Art Deco became more understated during the 1930s Great Depression as people’s tastes changed to less ostentatious materials like plastic, chrome plating, and stainless steel. The Art Deco movement came to an end with the outbreak of World War Two. Because of social restrictions during the war, the Art Deco aesthetic seemed much more decadent than it previously did. It was a decadence that, at the time, looked out of place in a gloomy, sad, and terrible period. Instead of employing the scarce metal supply for interior decoration, it was utilized to construct military apparatus and weaponry. Furniture was no longer considered to be a necessary status item in that time’s unsettled culture.

The Revival Cycles of  Art Deco

Art deco in the 1960s

Art Deco declined in popularity throughout the 1940s and 1950s but experienced a comeback during the 1960s. The 1960s were characterized by optimism, materialism, and hopefulness, much like the 1920s. The economy was stable, pop culture and consumerism were thriving, and the hippie culture celebrated freedom.

The Art Deco-inspired Pop Art and Postmodern trends were born in the 1960s. Similar to Art Deco, both movements heavily used vivid, solid colors and angular, geometric patterns. Art historian Bevis Hillier revived interest in Art Deco with his book on the movement. Art Deco started to rekindle widespread interest. In the 1960s, important Art Deco structures and interiors, notably Miami Beach and the breathtaking Rainbow Room in the RCA skyscraper at Rockefeller Center, underwent fashionable renovations.

Art deco in the 1970s

The Roaring Twenties are notorious for their prohibition parties, Charleston dance, and moral laxity. Similarly, the 1970s were dominated by Studio 54 parties and hedonism. Big Biba is unquestionably among the finest instances of the Art Deco revival in the 1970s. The London department store included geometric designs, marbled flooring, mirrors, peacock feather decorations, and figurative lamps. The opulent interiors radiated Art Deco glamor.

Art deco in the 1980s

In the 1980s, extravagance, luxury, and prestige were everything. The “ME” generation exalted young Wall Street stars and real estate moguls like Donald Trump. Bold colors and strong geometrics from the Art Deco era were revived. The colors this time around were significantly bolder. Intense bright hues from the 1980s came close to burning your retina.

The angular, geometric shapes of the Art Deco period significantly affected fashion and jewelry silhouettes in graphic design. The luxury, leisure, and technology of the 1920s were echoed in 1980s culture. The hedonistic, pleasure-seeking era of Art Deco was evocative of the 1980s lifestyle. The Memphis Group, a design and architectural movement headquartered in Milan in the 1980s, was likewise influenced by Art Deco.

Characteristics of Art Deco style

The most defining Art Deco characteristics include; The Art of the Curve, High-quality Marquetry, and Bold geometric shapes.

The Art of the Curve

Eugene Printz table
Eugene Printz table

In contrast to the Art Nouveau style, where curves were cherished but contrasted with vertical or horizontal lines, Art Deco was all about the arc, which was permitted to run free, unregulated, and in endless sinuous lines. Many of Eugene Printz’s table and upholstery designs used curves and straight lines. Many famous art Deco buildings made use of this element too. The Chrysler Building’s semicircles exemplify how art deco’s severe, angular geometric forms and straight lines are combined with elegant, sweeping curves. Many majestic staircases and arched doorways also featured these flowing patterns. A curving aspect may also be seen in deco furniture, such as an armchair with a curved back or armrests. Many of the fashionable club or blossom chair styles during this time had this curvature, which starkly contrasted with the orderly linear nature of most of the architecture.

 

High-quality Marquetry

Ruhlmann Corner Cabinet
Ruhlmann Corner Cabinet

One of the most recognizable styles from the Art Deco era is marquetry. Colors and strong linear symmetry were the hallmarks of the Art Deco style. Marquetry would enable the furniture to adhere to these principles and provide the feeling of ornamentation that is essential to Art Deco. The decoration was used on everything, from jewelry to houses to boats. Marquetry enabled artists like Ruhlmann to present this to the public at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Many of the critical ideas of Art Deco were present in the set of rooms he created for the idea of a Hotel du Collectionneur.

 

Bold geometric shapes

Chrystler Building
Chrystler Building, NYC

Sunbursts, waves, zigzags, and chevrons are standard Art Deco designs. These patterns are often seen in numerous ways throughout a space, such as in an area rug with zigzags, wallpaper with waves or chevrons, or a table or mirror with the design’s signature sunburst shape. Bold geometric forms were used in many Art Deco works, while subdued pastels were also often used. The juxtaposition of sharp, angular forms within the same design element or the dramatic transitions from one area to the next are characteristics of this style that set it apart. Rectangles, triangles, and octagons, among other forms with straight lines and angles, were combined to create intricate sculptures that mirrored the time’s contemporary and streamlined aesthetic. Everything from photo frames to art deco wallpaper has it. The Chrysler Building in Manhattan is a classic example of Art Deco architecture and features this design style.

Designers of jewelry had a significant role in the Art Deco era. These Art Deco artists used the vertical line and primary, repeating geometric design styles instead of the Art Nouveau style’s organic curved embellishments. The idea was to convey sophistication and style. Art Deco artists employed platinum, white gold, geometric design styles, and striking color contrasts to evoke the era’s spirit. In Art Deco jewelry, geometric diamond cuts, including the baguette, triangular, trapeze, and half-moon, gained popularity.

 

Art Deco artists

Major Art Deco artists include: René Lalique, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, William Van Alen, Sonia Delaunay, and Tamara de Lempicka.

René Lalique

Rene Lalique
Rene Lalique

 

  • Born: 6 April 1860, Ay, Aÿ-Champagne, France
  • Died: 1 May 1945, Paris, France
  • Known for: Glass art
  • Movements: Art Deco, Art Nouveau

French designer René Lalique, active in the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of glass art. His glasswork creations are still highly prized by collectors, and his reputation as an Art Deco artist is still strong today. Throughout his career, Lalique is most remembered for his exquisite jewelry, vases, chandeliers, clocks, and perfume bottles. Lalique went on to work with renowned French jewelers like Cartier and Boucheron after swiftly becoming one of the most well-known Art Nouveau jewelry designers. Lalique rejected the Art Nouveau aesthetic in the 1920s and showed an interest in fluid and organic shapes after refining his works of glass art. His artworks were more streamlined due to his adopting the new Art Deco movement methods. Despite trying a range of novel materials, Lalique favored working with glass.

His technique for producing glass dominated the jewelry market as he worked within the Art Deco movement. Lalique’s success was partly attributed to an earlier glass casting technique that had previously been little utilized but allowed him to make multiples of the same pattern easily. The lit glass walls and glass pillars for the ocean liner Normandie are only a few of Lalique’s enormous Art Deco creations, in addition to his delicate jewelry and perfume bottles.

Victoire mascot by Lalique, 1928
Victoire mascot by Lalique, 1928

However, “Victoire,” a glass sculpture by Lalique made in 1928, is among his best-known works. Victoire is a glass hood ornament that resembles a woman blowing in the wind. This sculpture alludes to the ancient Greek sculpture Winged Victory, housed in the Louvre, with her sharply protruding face and hair hanging behind her like a single, pointed wing. Victoire, both a fine art and a sculpture, appears to encompass all that Art Deco was because of its uniquely American design.

 

Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann
Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann

 

  • Born: 26 August 1879, Paris, France
  • Died: 15 November 1933, Paris, France
  • Known for: Furniture designer and interior decorator
  • Movements: Art Deco

French artist Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann was one of the essential furniture and interior designers of the Art Deco era. He used costly and unusual materials, which he worked with utilizing his extraordinarily soft skills, to create furniture designs that looked to be highly streamlined. Ruhlmann rose to prominence during the movement’s heyday and came to represent the grandeur and modernity for which the Art Deco movement was known.

Different Art Deco designers and architects responded differently to Ruhlmann’s opulent aesthetic. Particularly Le Corbusier advocated for the construction of more straightforward, more useful furniture in response to the styles of artwork Ruhlmann made. Ruhlmann’s designs, however, brilliantly reflected the thrilling and majestic spirit of the era since he firmly thought that the upper class was solely responsible for the preservation of art.

Ruhlmann made his furniture out of the most exotic materials available at the period, despite his restrictions on adornment. Ruhlmann created furniture that could reflect the newly acquired riches and taste of the rapidly developing aristocratic society. He was a favorite of the post-war bourgeois classes. Ruhlmann’s ability to combine the more sophisticated current style with the more classical style of the past is considered to be his finest professional accomplishment.

Etat Cabinet by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, 1922
Etat Cabinet by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, 1922

État Cabinet, a piece of furniture made by Ruhlmann in 1922, is one to note. Ruhlmann used a sturdy wood that stood out dramatically against the complex ivory pattern, departing from the conventional Art Nouveau style’s symmetry and limited color palette. Despite this, the intricate floral details significantly referenced the Art Nouveau design, and the État Cabinet was a more modern and straightforward piece that seemed to be caught between the two styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

 

William Van Alen

William Van Alen
William Van Alen
  • Born: 10 August 1883, Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Died: 24 May 1954, New York, New York, United States
  • Occupation: Architect
  • Movements: Art Deco

The landmark Chrysler Building in New York City was constructed by American architect William Van Alen, perhaps the most significant artist to emerge from the Art Deco era. Van Alen, a Brooklyn native, studied architecture in both the US and France before deciding on a particular architectural style. After his return from Paris in 1910, Van Alen showed a strong interest in modernism, which was said to have been influenced by the nascent phases of the still-evolving Art Deco movement. In New York, the height of the Art Deco movement saw the construction of many unique structures. Van Alen designed the renowned Chrysler Structure in the late 1920s, and it was finished in 1930. This building altered the city’s skyline.

Chrystler Building
Chrystler Building, NYC

The Chrysler Building, one of the most stunning buildings in the city, was constructed in the Turtle Bay area on Manhattan’s East Side. This architectural design was highly successful and still used in the 1960s. It took less than two years to complete, with an average of four stories being added each week, which was a reasonably quick pace given the technology available at the time. The decoration of the Chrysler Building is what gave it its significance. The structure’s summit was decorated with triangles arranged around the curving tiers that resembled the sun shining toward a peak.

Additionally, embellishments resembling a car’s hood ornament included Art Deco gargoyles. As it was defined at the time, this gravity-defying skyscraper had all of the fundamental components of an Art Deco structure. It used its design to express the conflict between modern man and nature.

 

Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delaunay

 

  • Born: 14 November 1885, Hradyz’k, Ukraine
  • Died: 5 December 1979, Paris, France
  • Known for: Painting
  • Movement: Modern art, Orphism, Art Deco

Sonia Delaunay, a French artist of Russian descent, was one of the few female practitioners of the Art Deco style. Delaunay, a co-founder of the Orphism art movement, is credited as being among the famous Art Deco designers. Delauney continues to have a significant effect on several contemporary fashion trends. Delaunay collaborated closely with other Surrealist and Dada artists to develop her style while drawing inspiration from the Cubist and Fauvist movements. She was afterward the first fashion designer to use abstract influence.

Delaunay was captivated by geometric design, which was mainly prevalent between 1920 and 1930 and proven contemporary. During this period, Delaunay created some of her most renowned fashion designs and became a painter. She referred to her artwork as “dynamic art,” heavily emphasizing color. During the 1925 Paris Exposition, Delaunay earned the title of “designer of contemporary dress” because of her striking use of color and fabric. She eventually became a member of The modernists, who, in 1929, founded their organization, the French Union of Modern Artists. The modernist Art Deco group questioned the traditional Art Deco style, claiming it was established only for the benefit of the rich. This group claimed that, for instance, well-designed structures should be easily accessible to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic class.

Sonia Delaunay, 1914, Prismes Electriques
Sonia Delaunay, 1914, Prismes Electriques

Perhaps her patchwork dresses, which served as “simulism” experiments, are her most well-known pieces of clothing. Delaunay made her costumes stand out by combining a range of hues and fabrics, using vivid geometric forms and dramatic color blocks. Her emancipation of the feminine silhouette in clothes after World War One contributed to her success in the fashion industry. Her works of art and creations continue to impact contemporary design firms like Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

 

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka

 

  • Born: 16 May 1898, Warsaw, Poland
  • Died: 18 March 1980, Cuernavaca, Mexico
  • Known for: Painter
  • Movement: Art Deco

Tamara de Lempicka is another significant female artist who created works of art throughout the Art Deco era. Polish-born Lempicka was one of the most admired and well-known painters of the Art Deco period. She is most known for her elegant and fashionable images of the upper class in Art Deco, as well as her immensely stylized drawings of nudists. Lempicka, who relocated to Paris after the Russian Revolution, had a fascination with the 1920s’ nonconformist Parisian way of life.

Lempicka’s portraits earned her high acclaim from critics and considerable riches. Her paintings, which drew influence from movements like cubism, expertly captured a life of luxury and glitz. She could offer opulent but crisp and precise paintings because of her approach to Art Deco painting. Lempicka’s paintings are regarded as the most outstanding examples of Art Deco paintings. The intensity of her colors and her angular style allude to some of the critical elements of the Art Deco movement.

One of her most well-known paintings, Young Lady with Gloves, created in 1930, is among her signature pieces. She is shown as a stylishly modest woman wearing a green dress, enhanced by her discreetly matching white hat and gloves. Despite her seeming timidity, her brilliant red lipstick makes her stand out. Lempicka’s unique style, which also exemplifies the interaction of Cubism and Art Deco in her creative approach, is characterized by the crisp, almost shattered planes of color utilized to express the facial characteristics and the fabric of the garment.

Young Lady with Gloves, 1930
Young Lady with Gloves, 1930, Tamara de Lempicka

Lempicka’s portraits and paintings continue to elicit the same level of acclaim now as they did then. Although she initially created her works for an exclusive audience, they have provoked discussion in all social strata and are admired by many. Lempicka was regarded as one of the most notable portrait painters of her period, and the art deco aesthetic is perfectly embodied in her paintings’ sleek elegance and clear lines.

 

Art Deco artworks

Famous Art Deco artworks which first appeared on the art scene and utterly enchanted the globe include Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France by A.M. Cassandre, Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti by Tamara de Lempicka, Young Lady with Gloves by Tamara de Lempicka, Tipsy by Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, and Rythme by Sonia Delaunay.

Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France

Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France

 

  • Artist: A.M. Cassandre
  • Year: 1924
  • Medium: Lithographic poster
  • Dimensions: 35.8 cm x 25.4 cm
  • Location: Unknown

Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, a French painter and poster artist better known by his pen as “A.M. Cassandre,” is most known for his typeface-designed advertising posters. Cassandre, a key figure in the Art Deco movement and a graphic designer, invented the now-famous Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France in 1924. This poster received recognition at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. Cassandre’s poster was generally believed to be instrumental in popularizing the Art Deco movement worldwide. Cassandre incorporated the key elements of Art Deco into this poster using eye-catching, elegant lines and robust geometric forms. Cubist characteristics are evident in the precise deconstruction and overlaying of the states that make up the primary contour of the bird and the wine glass in this illustration of a bird perched behind one.

This poster has a stylized, monochromatic bird perched above a bit of glass of honey-colored liquor. Both pictures are simplified, yet they remain representational in a way reminiscent of Cubist deconstruction and reconstruction: things are reduced to simple, overlapping geometric patterns. To achieve a peaceful cohabitation between the components in this composition, the artist uses a restricted palette of black, gray, and a small range of chilly hues contrasted with warm ones (the royal blue of the lettering is paired with the inviting amber hue of the aperitif).

The graphic heavily incorporates Cassandre’s spare typography. The letters are made by combining simple geometric shapes. The letters that make up the word “Pivolo” at the top of the page seem to have been manufactured and put together mechanically. They resemble the straightforward, practical machines prevalent throughout the Art Deco period. Even the individual text letters become artistic elements of the artwork, fusing the commercial or functional portion of the work with the aesthetic side.

Cassandre emphasized both items’ stylization in this poster by making them more straightforward. Cassandre could accentuate certain aspects of this poster by relying on a more minimal color scheme of black and grey with a combination of cold and warm tones. For instance, the poster’s title and the liquid in the glass are the characteristics that draw the most attention since Cassandre contrasts the colors chosen for both. Cassandre said that this was done to show the peaceful coexistence that may exist between many elements, as shown in this painting.

Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti

Tamara de Lempicka, self-portrait in a Green Bugatti, 1929.

 

  • Artist:  Tamara de Lempicka
  • Year: 1925
  • Medium:  Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 35 cm x 26.6 cm
  • Location: Private collection, Switzerland

One of the most famous female painters worldwide is the Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka. Lempicka was renowned for her distinct image of female freedom and painted highly intriguing and thought-provoking compositions. Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti, an Art Deco portrait she created in 1925, is one of her most well-known pieces. Lempicka portrayed herself in this work sitting at the wheel of a Bugatti sports vehicle. Lempicka’s artwork often used elegant themes since she was considered to enjoy a highly glamorous life. Lempicka is seen in this self-portrait sporting stylish clothing.

Lempicka’s painting is exaggerated and highly exciting to look at. She is outfitted with driving gloves, a fitting headgear that resembles a helmet, and a scarf that waves out dramatically behind her. Lempicka’s use of geometric forms to define her face and attire lends this piece a gentle Cubist aspect. The fabric’s creases and the car’s silver accents resembled typical Art Deco design elements. The stunning lighting style also contributed to the sense of speed and movement, giving the idea that viewers could only catch Lempicka for a split second. These were all aspects of the modernization occurring at the beginning of the 20th century, and a highly modern lady was shown. Lempicka’s open sexuality, which she displays by addressing onlookers openly and quickly, emphasizes this even more.

Young Lady with Gloves

Young Lady with Gloves, 1930
Young Lady with Gloves, 1930

 

  • Artist:  Tamara de Lempicka
  • Year: 1930
  • Medium:  Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 61.5 cm x 45.5 cm
  • Location: Le Centre Pompidou, Paris

Tamara de Lempicka, a painter of Polish descent, is credited with helping popularize the Art Deco movement in Europe and North America. She specialized in producing stylish, high-end portraits of celebrities and socialites, including actresses and nobles. She received significant compensation for her efforts, which brought her prominence and praise from the critics. Lempicka was a prominent member of Paris’s bohemian community in the 1920s when she became friends with authors Andre Gide, Jean Cocteau, and Picasso. Her scandalous love life often drew attention and commentary.

This artwork is one of her most well-known pieces. In the painting Young Lady With Gloves, a stylishly demure lady is seen with a green dress, a white hat, matching gloves, and bright red lipstick. Although Lempicka avoids the more symbolic abstraction of that style, the acute linearity, fragmented planes of green cloth, the shallow gray backdrop, and the harsh interplay of light and shadow on her face demonstrate the significant impact of Cubism on the Art Deco style. Her paintings are figurative and share the streamlined and refined Art Deco aesthetics’ vivid colors and precise, clear lines.

Young Lady with Gloves is one of her better-known pieces because of how much emphasis it places on aesthetics, precision, geometry, and color. Around this painting, Lempicka encountered a lot of opposition and debate. This was due to the silk dress’s ability to stick to the woman’s body’s curves while emphasizing her breasts and nipples. Even though she is shown in a highly risqué way, the lady in the artwork looks reserved. The lady pulls the hat lower down to avoid being stared at. The gloves and hat, which Lempicka painted in the hue of purity, contribute to the woman’s modest state. Her bright red lipstick, which serves as another focal point of the piece and pulls viewers in, does nothing to aid in her attempts to blend into the background.

Elegant sensuality is another aspect of the Art Deco style that may be seen in Lempicka’s creations. The young woman’s silk garment clings to her body in this photograph, emphasizing her breasts and abdomen. In reality, when this artwork was initially shown at Paris’ Salon des Independants in 1932, it caused controversy due to what was at the time seen as its sexually suggestive character.

Tipsy

Tipsy, Kobayakawa Kiyoshi

 

  • Artist: Kobayakawa Kiyoshi
  • Year: 1930
  • Medium: Woodblock print
  • Dimensions: 43 cm x 27 cm
  • Location: Honolulu Museum of Art Accession, Hawaii

The Art Deco style of the 1920s had a significant impact on every country, including Japan. Like the Art Deco movement in Europe, this movement was present in Japan in architectural designs, interior décor, artworks, posters, apparel, and even certain lifestyles. Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, a painter, also took part in this trend and created Art Deco pieces that depicted the 1930s lives of Japanese ladies. In 1930, he produced the renowned woodcut print titled Tipsy. The first print in a series to be released, “Tipsy,” is primarily recognized as the most significant print in the collection.

Kiyoshi’s artwork captures the mood without being too emotional, exemplifying the shin-hanga genre. This new print style appeared in Japan in the early 20th century that tried to improve conventional woodblock printing. This poster features a contemporary, independent Japanese lady smoking a cigarette and a beverage in front of her against a striking red backdrop. At the time, several of the print’s components were seen as divisive. First, the woman’s apparent independence from the convention is observed, and the exotic crimson of both her lips and the backdrop alludes to something that may be more sensual. The lady in this poster is enjoying her evening alone, which is further accentuated by her short bob hairdo, which was highly in style at the time. This is shown by her sly smile, titled head, cigarette, and drink in the image.

Rythme

Rythme - Sonia Delaunay

 

  • Artist: Sonia Delaunay
  • Year: 1938
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 182 cm x 149 cm
  • Location: Collection of Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris

Sonia Delaunay, married to fellow artist Robert Delaunay, was another highly acclaimed female artist to emerge during the Art Deco era in the 1920s. Although Delaunay spent much of her career experimenting with fashion and apparel design, she also created several well-known paintings. Rythme, which she completed in 1938, is one of her notable Art Deco artworks. Delaunay produced this piece of art specifically for the 15th annual Salon des Tuileries exhibition in Paris, which took place in 1938.

Delaunay often used geometric and abstract patterns in her paintings, as seen in Rythme, along with extraordinarily vivid and brilliant colors. Delaunay’s paintings highlight the most significant elements of these styles and hues, particularly popular throughout the Art Deco period. Rythme’s colossal scale and use of vivid primary colors in contrast to the monochrome black and whites compels viewers to concentrate on the striking concentric circles.

Delaunay created a line of disconnected circles connected along a central axis by arranging layers of semi-circle curves irregularly close to one another. Although many different colors are employed in this composition, the few black and white circles serve as the artwork’s foundation and help create equilibrium throughout the canvas. Delaunay devoted much of the 1930s to studying “rhythms.” The complementary and oppositional circles helped produce several unique rhythms by arranging various colors adjacent to one another.

Art Deco vs Art Nouveau

Like Art Deco, Art Nouveau is a decorative art style used in various mediums, including artwork, jewelry, interior design, and architecture. Both of these fashions were well-liked in Europe and the United States, although Art Nouveau thrived earlier, from 1890 to 1910, while Art Deco peaked in the late 1920s and early ’30s. The emphasis on nature in Art Nouveau is seen in the sculptures’ distinctive asymmetrical curved lines, which often resemble flower stalks and buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate natural things. On the other side, Art Deco championed geometrical lines and slimline shapes while celebrating the modern machine.

In terms of aesthetics and philosophy, Art Nouveau and the more significant modernist movement were directly addressed by Art Deco. Art Nouveau started to lose favor during World War I because many critics believed the meticulous detail, delicate patterns, sometimes costly materials, and manufacturing techniques were inappropriate for a demanding, unsettling, and more automated modern world. The Art Nouveau movement highlighted the qualities of the hand-crafted and drew its elaborate, stylized shapes from nature. At the same time, the Art Deco approach emphasized machine-age streamlining and sleek geometry.

Art Deco vs Modernism

Despite having its roots in Modernism, the Art Deco style does not technically belong to the Modernism movement. In the 1930s and 1940s, at the height of the Great Depression, Modernism first appeared in the United States. It represented a change from the extravagance and garish fashions of the previous decade. Modernism, which is mostly what we still connect with contemporary design today, embraced concrete, steel, and glass in place of flashy and frivolous materials. It was noted for its clean lines and open floor layouts. Modernism and Art Deco undoubtedly share specific characteristics since they both gained popularity in the same period and because architects like Le Corbusier walked a thin line between them. On the other hand, Modernism is a simplified variation of Art Deco where the focus is on form instead of adornment.

The decadent and lavish use of materials that characterized the booming 1920s gave rise to Art Deco. Art Deco wasn’t developed until much later, in the 1960s; it was initially known as “Style Moderne.” It was inspired by the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, Industriels, et Modernes. The late 1800s Art Nouveau style was directly addressed by and in reaction to Art Deco. The Art Deco style, which drew its influence from ancient Egypt, Bauhaus, and Cubism, embraced new technologies like Sheffield stainless steel to create an air of glitz, extravagance, and elegance. Among the most distinctive characteristics of Art Deco are triangles, zigzags, and chevrons.

Modernism, on the other hand, is the streamlined development of Art Deco. It occurred during the 1930s and 1940s Great Depression, a period of economic hardship that witnessed a move away from flashiness. Although the 1950s and 1960s are when we often think of Modernism, earlier examples demonstrate how it developed from and had evident roots in the Art Deco style. Modernism was a purposeful break from what was seen to be the flashy stylings of the previous decade. The movement promoted practical design and combined it with cutting-edge components like concrete, glass, and steel. These were utilized in ground-breaking interior designs that broke with tradition and featured open floor plans and sleek lines.

What Art Movements were Influenced by Art Deco?

Mid-Century Modern design, which revives the pure simplicity of the Bauhaus and continues forth the Deco aesthetics’ streamlined style. Following closely was a parallel movement known as Streamline Moderne. Streamline Moderne became the American continuation of the European Art Deco movement. Modern aerodynamic designs from developing ballistics, aviation, and other high-velocity sectors impacted streamlining. Art Deco passionately embraced the appealing forms produced by scientifically applied aerodynamic principles, facilitating methods to other practical daily things, such as the car.

The Memphis Group, a significant Italian design and architectural movement of the 1980s, was likewise influenced by Art Deco. Ettore Sottsass formed the organization. The ensemble included Barbara Radice, Michael Graves, Nathalie du Pasquier, Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, Michele de Lucchi, Arata Isozaki, Shiro Kuromata, Matteo Thun, Javier Mariscal, George Sowden, Marco Zanini, dissolved in 1988. Named after the song Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues by Bob Dylan Once again, the movement had a sense of humor that was absent in design at the time and was a response to the post-Bauhaus “black box” designs of the 1970s. The Memphis Group presented works that were striking, vivid, and vibrant. The dark blacks and browns of European furniture stood in stark contrast to the colors they utilized. Pop Art, 1950s Kitsch, and futuristic motifs, in addition to Art Deco, also influenced them. Their ideas ran counter to what is considered “Good Design.”

Resources

Art Deco Houses: Everything You Need to Know About this Timeless Architectural and Design Style

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