Características del Art Deco

Art Deco Zig Zag Modern

Art Deco is a popular design style of the 1920s and 1930s characterized especially by elegant geometric or stylized forms and the use of man-made materials.

Characteristics of the Art Deco style originated in France in the mid to late 1910s, matured during the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries held in Paris in 1925, becoming an important style in Western Europe and the United States during the 1930s.

Characteristic features of Art Deco reflect an admiration for the modernity of the machine and for the design qualities inherent in machine-made objects, for example, relative simplicity, flatness, symmetry, and invariable repetition of elements. Art Deco objects often exhibit simple, clean forms, usually with a "sleek" appearance; geometric or stylized ornament from figurative forms such as flowers, animals and sunbeams; and the use of man-made substances, including plastics, vitamin glass, and reinforced concrete, often combined with natural materials such as jade, silver, ivory, and chrome.


art deco posters

Art Deco - poster

Formative influences on Art Deco include Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Cubism, and Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Art Deco practitioners also found inspiration in American Indian, Egyptian, and early classical sources, as well as in nature.

Like Art Deco, art nouveau is an ornamental style that is applied to media such as architecture, interior design, jewelry, and illustration. Both styles were popular in Europe and the United States, but Art Nouveau flourished earlier, between 1890 and 1910.

In turn, Art Deco reached its height in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Art Nouveau emphasized nature, and objects were especially characterized by asymmetrical sinuous lines, often taking the form of stems and flower buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate natural objects. Art Deco, on the other hand, celebrated the modern machine and promoted geometric lines and elegant shapes.

Its main difference from art nouveau is the influence of cubism which gives Art Deco design a more fragmented geometric character. However, images based on plant shapes and sinuous curves remained in some Art Deco designs, for example that of Clarice Cliff in Britain. Art Deco was wide-ranging in its influences, drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian art, Aztec art, and other ancient Central American art, as well as modern ship, train, and automobile design. He was also inspired by the modern architecture and design of the Bauhaus and architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van de Rohe.

Art Deco derived its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, where the style was first exhibited. Art Deco design represented modernism turned into fashion. Their products included both individually handcrafted luxury items and mass-produced items, but in either case, the intention was to create an elegant, anti-traditional elegance that symbolized wealth and sophistication.

Most of the prominent Art Deco creators designed handmade or limited edition items. They included furniture designers Jacques Ruhlmann and Maurice Dufrène; the architect Eliel Saarinen; the goldsmith Jean Puiforcat; jewelry and crystal designer René Lalique; the fashion designer Erté; the artist-jewellers Raymond Templier, HG Murphy and Wiwen Nilsson; and the figurative sculptor Chiparus.


Art Deco - piece of furniture by Jacques Ruhlmann

Art Deco - piece of furniture by Jacques Ruhlmann


Art Deco Jean Puiforcat

Art Deco by goldsmith Jean Puiforcat

Early Art Deco

By the end of the 19th century in France, many of the notable artists, architects, and designers who had played a significant role in the development of the Art Nouveau style recognized that it was becoming increasingly old-fashioned. At the end of a century that saw the Industrial Revolution take hold, contemporary life became very different from that of a few decades earlier. It was time for something new, something that would exclaim "20th century" from the tasteful, modernist rooftops.


The Society of Decorative Artists of France

Out of this desire to move into the new century at the pace of innovation rather than being held back by nostalgia, a group of French art innovators formed an organization called the Societé des Artistes Décorateurs (The Society of Decorative Artists). The group comprised such well-known figures as Art Nouveau designer and printmaker Eugene Grasset, and Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard, along with emerging decorative artists and designers such as Pierre Chareau and Francis Jourdain. The French state supported and encouraged this direction of artistic activity.

Society of Artistes Décorateurs

Art Deco - The Society of Decorative Artists

One of the main goals of the new group was to challenge the hierarchical structure of the visual arts that relegated decorative artists to a lower status than the more classical mediums of painting and sculpture. Jourdain is famously quoted: "We therefore decided to return decorative art, inconsiderately treated like a Cinderella or a poor relation who was allowed to eat with the servants, to the important, almost preponderant place it occupied in the past, of all times and at all times" of the countries of the globe".

The plan for a major exhibition featuring a new type of decorative art was originally conceived for 1914, but had to be put on hold until after World War I was over and was then delayed for various reasons until 1925.


The Exhibition that officially launched the Art Deco movement

Hosting the exhibition between the gold-domed Les Invalides esplanade and the entrances to the Petit Palais and Grand Palais on either side of the Seine River, the French government took pains to showcase the new style. More than 15,000 artists, architects and designers exhibited their work in the exhibition. During the seven months of the exhibition, more than 16 million people toured the many individual exhibits. This exposure was the catalyst for the beginning of the movement.


Art Nouveau and Art Deco

Art Deco was an aesthetically and philosophically direct response to the Art Nouveau style and the broader cultural phenomenon of modernism. Art Nouveau began to fall out of fashion during World War I, as many critics felt that the style's elaborate details, delicate designs, often expensive materials, and production methods were ill-suited to a challenging, unstable modern world. and increasingly mechanized. While the Art Nouveau movement derived its intricate, stylized forms from nature and extolled the virtues of the handmade, the Art Deco aesthetic emphasized the streamlined, elegant geometry of the machine age.


Art Deco and Modernism

The Exposition Internationale brought together not only works in the Art Deco style, but placed handcrafted items near examples of avant-garde painting and sculpture in styles such as Cubism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and Futurism. In the 1920s, Art Deco was an exuberant but largely conventional counterpoint to the more cerebral Bauhaus and De Stijl aesthetic. All three shared an emphasis on strong, clean lines as an organizing design principle. Art Deco practitioners embraced technological innovation, modern materials, and mechanization and attempted to emphasize them in the overall aesthetic of the style itself. Practitioners also borrowed and learned from other modernist movements. Art Deco came to be regarded by admirers who were up to date with the future prospects of contemporary avant-garde movements. Ironically, modernist painting and sculpture played a secondary role in the exhibition with the few exceptions being the Soviet pavilion and Le Corbusier's Esprit Nouveau pavilion.


Art Deco after the Great Depression

The start of the second phase of Art Deco coincided with the beginning of the Great Depression. Austerity, in fact, could be the central aesthetic for both pragmatic and conceptual reasons for this second development of Art Deco. Whereas Art Deco architecture, for example, had been vertically oriented with skyscrapers rising to great heights, later Art Deco buildings with their mostly unadorned exteriors, graceful curves, and horizontal emphases symbolized robustness, quiet dignity, and endurance. During the worst years of economic disaster, from 1929 to 1931, American Art Deco went from following trends to setting them.


Streamline Moderne

Streamline Moderne became the American continuation of the European Art Deco movement. Beyond serious economic and philosophical influences, the aesthetic inspiration for the first Streamline Moderne structures were buildings designed by proponents of the New Objectivity movement in Germany, which grew out of an informal association of German architects, designers, and artists that had formed at the beginning of the 20th century.


Art Deco Streamline Moderne

Art Deco - Modern Streamline

The artists and architects of the New Objectivity were inspired by the same kind of understated pragmatism that compelled proponents of Streamline Moderne to weed out the excesses, including the emotionalism, of Expressionism. The architects of the New Objectivity concentrated on producing structures that could be considered practical, as a reflection of the demands of real life. They preferred their designs to fit the real world rather than make others conform to impractical aesthetics. To that end, the architects at New Objectivity even pioneered prefabrication technology (helping to quickly and efficiently house Germany's poor).

Devoid of embellishment, Streamline Moderne architecture featured clean curves, long horizontal lines (including window bands), glass bricks, porthole-style windows, and cylindrical and sometimes nautical shapes. More than ever, there was an emphasis on aerodynamics and other expressions of modern technology. The more expensive and often exotic materials of Art Deco were replaced by concrete, glass, and chrome hardware in Streamline Moderne. Color was used sparingly, as off-white, beige, and earth tones replaced the more vivid colors of Art Deco. The style was first introduced to architecture and later spread to other objects, similar to the traditional Art Deco style.


Art Deco is retroactively named

Originally, the term "Art Deco" was used pejoratively by a famous detractor, the modernist architect Le Corbusier, in articles criticizing the style for its ornamentation, a feature he considered unnecessary in modern architecture. While proponents of the style hailed it as a streamlined, modernist response to excessive ornamentation, especially when compared to its immediate predecessor, Art Nouveau, as any decoration was superfluous for Le Corbusier. It was not until the late 1960s, when interest in the style was revitalized, that the term "Art Deco" was used in a positive light by the British art historian and critic Bevis Hillier.


Art Deco in the United States

In the United States, the reception of the Art Deco movement developed on a different trajectory. Herbert Hoover, the US Secretary of Commerce at the time, decreed that American designers and architects could not exhibit their work at the International Exposition because he argued that the country had yet to conceive of a distinctly American style of art that was satisfyingly "new enough". As an alternative, he sent a delegation to France to evaluate the offerings at the Exposition and then apply what they saw to a contemporary American artistic and architectural style. Hoover's contingent of aesthetic emissaries included prominent figures from the American Institute of Architecture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Times. The mission inspired an almost immediate boom in artistic innovation in the US.

By 1926, a smaller version of the French fair called "A Selected Collection of Objects from the International Exposition of Modern, Industrial, and Decorative Arts" toured many US cities including New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Minneapolis. and Philadelphia. The American World's Fairs in Chicago (1933) and New York City (1939) highlighted Art Deco designs, while Hollywood embraced the aesthetic and glamorized it across the country. Even US corporations like General Motors and Ford built pavilions at the New York World's Fair.


Art Deco - New York World's Fair

Among the best-known examples of the American Art Deco style are skyscrapers and other large-scale buildings. In fact, the American iteration of Art Deco in building designs has been dubbed Zigzag Modern for its angular and geometric patterns as elaborate architectural facades. However, American Art Deco in general is often less ornamental than its European predecessor. Beyond the clean lines and strong curves, bold geometric shapes, rich colors, and sometimes lavish ornamentation, the American version is more understated. As major influences such as the New Objectivity and International Style of architecture, as well as the serious economic setbacks of the late 1920s and early 1930s, began to influence the Art Deco aesthetic, the style became much less luxurious.

Art Deco Zig Zag Modern

Art Deco - Zig Zag Modern

The American Art Deco style developed as a celebration of technological advancement, including mass production, and a restored faith in social progress. In essence, these achievements could be considered a reflection of national pride. In the 1930s under Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA), many of the works that were created were Art Deco, from municipal structures like libraries and schools to massive public murals. The WPA intended to boost the post-war American economy by creating public works jobs, and sought to serve the community by creating jobs and instilling American values ​​within design. The use of American Art Deco thus brought an expression of democracy through design. Some materials that were often used in Art Deco creation were expensive and therefore beyond the reach of the average man. However, the use of new or inexpensive materials made it possible to produce a wide range of affordable products and thus brought beauty into the public sphere in a new way.


Global Growth of Art Deco

The Art Deco style took hold in world capitals as diverse as Havana, Cuba, Mumbai, and Jakarta. Havana has an entire neighborhood built in the Art Deco style. London's underground rail system heavily embodies the style. The port of Shanghai contains more than fifty Art Deco structures, most of which were designed by the Hungarian Laszlo Hudec. From war memorials to hospitals, cities as far afield as Sydney and Melbourne in Australia have also imbibed the phenomenal style.


Art Deco Laszlo Hudec

Art Deco - Laszlo Hudec

The main visual characteristics of Art Deco stem from the repetitive use of linear and geometric shapes including triangular, zigzag, trapezoidal, and chevron-patterned shapes. Like its predecessor, Art Nouveau, when objects such as flowers, animals, or human figures are depicted, they are greatly stylized and simplified to maintain the overall aesthetic of Art Deco. The nature and extent of the stylization and simplification or simplification varies depending on the regional iteration of the style. For example, a figure like French designer René Lalique's The Firebird (1922) is elegantly slim and toned down, while Lee Lawrie's Atlas (1937) outside Rockefeller Center is solid and stocky with emphatically linear musculature, though both are considered good representations of the Deco style.


Art Deco Atlas Lee Lawrie

Art Deco - Atlas by Lee Lawrie in the Rockerfeller Building

In keeping with the movement's emphasis on modern technology, Art Deco artists and designers exploited modern materials such as plastics, Bakelite, and stainless steel. But when a touch of richness and refinement was needed, designers incorporated more exotic materials such as ivory, horn and zebra skin. As with the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements, the Art Deco style was applied much less to the traditionally higher-ranking forms of visual arts expression: painting and sculpture.


art deco design

The Art Deco style exerted its influence on the graphic arts in a way that reveals the influence of Italian Futurism with its love of speed and worship of the machine. Futurist artists used lines to indicate motion, known as "speed whiskers," coming from the wheels of fast-moving cars and trains. Additionally, Art Deco practitioners used parallel lines and tapered shapes that suggest symmetry and streamlinedness. Typography was affected by the international influence of Art Deco and Bifur, Broadway and Peignot typefaces are immediately reminiscent of the style.


Art Deco Fork

Art Deco - Bifur font

In terms of images, the simple shapes and large areas of solid color are reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, which had become a major source of influence for Western artists, especially in France, after the end of the isolationist Edo period in 1868. The subsequent influx of art from Japan to Europe had an enormous impact. In particular, artists found in the formal simplicity of woodcuts a model for creating their own distinctively modern styles, beginning with Impressionist.


art deco furniture

Until the late 1920s, avant-garde furniture design in France consisted primarily of variations on the Art Nouveau style, but simplified and less curvaceous. As the decade progressed, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann emerged as the leading furniture designer (Ruhlmann had a pavilion of his own at the 1925 Exposition). While his designs were primarily inspired by 18th-century pieces produced in the neoclassical style, he eliminated much of the ornamentation while continuing to use exotic materials favored by Art Nouveau designers, such as mahogany, ebony, rosewood, ivory, and the tortoise shell. Of course, his pieces were often too expensive for anyone except the very wealthy to acquire.

In contrast to Ruhlmann's lavish designs, which seemed to straddle Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, the most definitely Art Deco furniture designer in France was Jules Leleu. He had been a traditional designer until the new style supplanted Art Nouveau and is known for designing the grand dining room of the Elysée Palace in Paris and the luxurious cabins on the first-class deck of the elegant Normandie steamer.


Art Deco Jules Leleu

Art Deco - furniture by Jules Leleu

In contrast to Leleu and Ruhlmann, Le Corbusier was an advocate of a much stripped-down, unadorned version of the Art Deco style, often creating furniture suitable for the austere interiors of his own architectural structures. His intention was to design prototypes, particularly of chairs, that could be mass-produced and thus affordable for a broader market. Art DecoLe Corbusier mess. Also noteworthy is that Donald Deskey's interior design of New York City's famous landmark, Radio City Music Hall, is a prime example of American Art Deco furniture design that is still intact in its original form today. the present.

Art Deco - furniture by Le Corbusier


art deco architecture

Art Deco architecture is characterized by hard-edged, often richly embellished designs accented by gleaming metallic details. Many of these buildings have a vertical emphasis, built with the intention of drawing attention upwards. The rectangular, often blocky shapes are arranged geometrically, with the addition of roof spires and/or curved ornamental elements to provide a streamlined effect. The skyscrapers of New York and the pastel-colored buildings of Miami are among the most famous American examples, although the style was implemented in a variety of structures around the world.


In the United States, the Works Progress Administration helped Art Deco architecture become widespread. Interestingly, the fusion of Art Deco and Beaux-Arts classicism seen in many Depression-era public works is known as PWA Moderne or Depression Moderne.

Art Deco Depression Moderne

Art Deco PWA Moderne - Depression Moderne


Later developments: after Art Deco

Art Deco fell out of fashion during the World War II years in Europe and North America, with wartime austerity making the style seem increasingly flashy and decadent. The metals were recovered for use in the construction of weapons, rather than decorating buildings or interior spaces. Furniture was no longer considered status objects. Other technological advances allowed for cheaper production of basic consumer items, eliminating the need for and popularity of Art Deco designers.

A movement that in many ways sought to break with the past has now become a classic that evokes supreme nostalgia and is fondly remembered. Since the 1960s, there has been a steady and continuing interest in the style. Echoes of Art Deco can be seen in mid-century modern design, carrying forward the streamlined aesthetic of Deco and revisiting the clean simplicity of the Bauhaus. Deco also helped inspire the Memphis Group, a design and architecture movement centered in Milan during the 1980s. Memphis also drew on pop art and kitsch as sources for its colorful and self-consciously postmodern designs.

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