Art Deco in
during the 1920s was optimistic and the future seemed bright. World
War I was over and the economy was booming throughout the world. Jazz
music was all the rage, women had won the right to vote and the
flapper further liberated women. The Machine Age was in full swing
and technology was rapidly improving the quality of life. This was
the age that introduced the radio, the printing press, the skyscraper
and modernized transportation. There was a sense of excitement and
expectancy in the air, a time of anticipating a future filled with promise.
It was during
this time that Art Deco movement began to emerge. An exhibition was
held in Paris in 1925, called Exposition Internationale des Arts
Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. It attracted all of the
prominent French artists, architects, craftsmen and designers of the
period and featured their works. Although the various works did not
all have a common aesthetic - the Art Deco style is in fact quite
eclectic, with influences of Art Nouveau, Cubism, Futurism,
Modernism, Neo-Classicism and Bauhaus (Benton, 2003) - the themes of
the works did have a commonality...
Art Deco Themes
that emerged from the Exhibition were 'Modernity, 'Technology' and
'Luxury & Leisure'. Although the Exhibition in Paris featured the
works of French artists, the Art Deco movement was a global one, with
deep roots in other European countries, Egypt, India, East Asia,
Latin America, South Africa, Australia, United States, Mexico and
Cuba. The 'look' of Art Deco is often difficult to describe, as it is
an eclectic mix of styles, however it has the "you know it when
you see it" quality about it. (Fulford, 2003).
Art Deco Look
Art Deco is
associated with a sleek aesthetic, symmetrical geometric shapes and
bold bright colours like yellow, purple, ruby and turquoise.
Skyscrapers, furniture, and everyday objects were embellished with
angular patterns like zigzags, sunburst and chevrons.
trains and other means of transport began to take on a more
futuristic, aerodynamic look. Steel, glass and lacquered wood were
used to achieve that sleek, modern look. The booming economy allowed
for the liberal use of expensive materials, such as diamonds and
emeralds in jewelry, and mahogany and ivory in furniture.
travel came into vogue, a need for marketing exotic destinations to
the young and affluent became increasingly important. Major advances
in Graphic Design were happening during this time and in turn there
was a mass producing of advertising paraphernalia that came out of
the Art Deco era, most notably the travel poster.
Art Deco in
With the stock
market crash of 1929, the Great Depression began to spread throughout
the globe. Although it would be a couple more years before the
average family began to experience the effect of this economic
downturn, the optimism of the 20s was beginning to be replaced with a
By the mid
1930s however, the world had been badly bruised and beaten by the
Depression and Art Deco was an obscene, glittering reminder of a
future than never came. It came to be associated with an opulence and
extravagance that had no place in the stark reality of the day.
Moreover, as the threat of a second world war loomed closer and
closer, Art Deco was looked upon ever more vehemently. And with the
outbreak of WWII in 1939, Art Deco was dead.
The fad died
in the 40's, but was reborn again in the 80's and 90's. Known as
Style Moderne in the 20's, it received its more popular name of Art
in the late 60's. Spawned by a healthy economy at the end of WWI, it
represents positive outlook, collective good spirit, and futuristic
color and imagination. Fighting to end the austere and stuffy designs
of the Victorian
and Revivalist eras, it combined luxury, versatility, and
function in a cacaphony of color in art
such as art deco engagement