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Art Deco design means a highly decorative style that appeared in France after World War I and runs through to World War II ( ca 1915 – 1945 ) .

This influential visual art design style has been flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s . It was essentially an extension but also a perfect antidote in French Art Nouveau and English Aesthetic style.

The peak of Art Deco design was the 1925 Paris “Exposition Internationale des ArtsDécoratifs et Industriels Modernes”.

For the first time, the term “Art Deco” has been used by the architect Le Corbusier who penned several articles in his journal “L’Esprit Nouveau” under the headline “1925 Expo : Art Deco” .

The shortened term “Art Deco” came into a widespread use in one of the first books of an English historian, Bevis Hillier ( “Art Deco of the 20s and 30s ) , in 1968.

Art Deco style is born out of the rapid industrialization of the interwar period and characterized by its use of luxurious materials, wonderful craftsmanship, simple and geometric shapes . To create surface interest with emphasized embellishment, several techniques have been frequently used such as marquetery in furnishings, inlays of rare and noble materials, veneers of precious wood.

Art Deco design swept Europe in the 20s and 30s with a new energy when crossing the Atlantic.

At the same time, Art Deco also spreads in Canada, Latin America, north and eastern Europe, and also in Asia and Oceania.

Colors and style are also those of the early modern art movement, from Impressionism through Cubism. They have been but also inspired by Chinese and Japonese art, both of which very popular during this period.

During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress.

After exuberant Art Nouveau, with its rolled up reliefs and excesses of sculpture, Art Deco furnishing is marked by simple and geometric shapes. Elements are often arranged in symmetric pattern and emphasize geometric forms, chevrons and sunburst motifs.

But these simple shapes contrast with the luxury, the rarity and the precious character of used materials : ebony of Macassar, Indonesian wood for sheets of veneer, amboine and fruit tree burr, Rio rosewood, mahagony from Cuba, sycamore; all those precious woods often inlaid with ivory,scale or mother-of-pearl.

Surfaces are highlighted by shining varnishs, sometimes by oriental laquers  (Jacques Dunand ) .

For decoration of furniture, it’s the great come back of galuchat ( Jean Claude Galuchat ) using stingray, sharkskin, “shagreen”-  word derived from French “chagrin” -  .

Among the most famous Art Deco designers founders : Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, Pierre Chareau, Jacques Doucet, Jacques et Jean Adnet, Paul Follot, Paul Iribe, René Lalique, Eileen Gray in Ireland, Kem Weber in US.

These furnishing designers often worked to order but had also workshops for larger markets.

At the same period , this movement in design also involved other fields of art such as architecture, music , painting , lighting, etc ...

From famous skyscrapers to entire streets and monuments, Aoife O’Riordan explains “why the US went Art Deco mad”. Even in uncertain economic times, Art Deco survived Prohibition, the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. Lot of examples can be found in almost any city in America, from Detroit to Denver and Cincinnati to Chicago.

About painting , after Impressionism on the end of 19th century, the “Fauvism” with Matisse, Gauguin, Bonnard runned a short period before “Cubism” movement mainly supported by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, from ca 1907 to 1915.

In music, among the new main composers appeared at the same period  Maurice Ravel, Serge Rachmaninov, Erick Satie, Jean Sibelius , Sir Edward Elgar, Gabriel Fauré, Serge Diaghilev in the Russian ballets. Most of their first masterpieces, welcomed with hostility during the beginning of the 20th century, now belong to the worldwide musical heritage.

But also Jazz music from New Orleans develops to Middle Jazz of Chicago.

These 20s and 30s were also the theater of:

Transcontinental flights with Charles Lindberg, Jean Mermoz, 

Automobile, Telephone,

Albert Einstein theory of relativity,

The psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud, 

Hollywood and the explosion of cinema,etc..

This flying over the Art Deco style is obviously incomplete and will deserve later developments.

Follow our blog for further details, and present physical and financial market of Art Deco style in US and in the world .

Jean Paul.


Art Deco (/ˌɑrt ˈdɛkoʊ/), or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France after World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and [...]

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