Art Deco

Art Deco, also referred to as “style modern”, is a movement in the decorative arts and architecture that originated in the 1920s; spanning the boom of the roaring 1920s. As a major style, it developed in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s; in the midst of the Depression. Its name was derived 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, and included individually crafted luxury items and mass-produced wares.

CIRC.526-1974_jar_1000px_custom_290x309_06200661 Enouch Boulton, Jazz jar and cover, Pottery, c. 1928

The actual term “Art Deco”, coined in the 1960s, affected all forms of design, from decorative arts like interior design, furniture, jewellery, textiles, fashion and industrial design, as well as to the applied art of architecture and the visual arts of film, photography, painting, graphics and product design. In every sense, the style drew on tradition and, at the same time, celebrated the mechanized, modern world. Often deeply nationalistic, it quickly spread around the world, dominating the skylines of cities from New York to Shanghai. It embraced both handcraft and machine production, exclusive works of high art and new products in affordable materials. Art Deco reflected the plurality of the contemporary world and, unlike its functionalist sibling, Modernism, responded to the human need for pleasure and escape.

34994_496197497081538_836990370_n Eric Rohman, “The Easiest Way”, Poster, 1931

Art Deco, like its forerunner Art Nouveau, was an eclectic style and drew on many sources; borrowing from historic European styles, contemporary Avant Garde art, the rich colours and exotic themes of the Ballets Russes, the urban imagery of the machine age, and more distant and ancient cultures (from the arts of Africa and East Asia). Archaeological discoveries fuelled a romantic fascination with early Egypt and Meso-America. But, in its application, the advance in resources would also play a significant part. Employing new building materials that were manipulated into stepped, radiating styles that contrasted sharply with the fluid motifs of Art Nouveau, Art Deco architecture represented scientific progress, and the consequent rise of commerce, technology, and speed (as exemplified in the Radio City Music Hall, in New York City’s theatre district and the ten-building complex of Rockefeller Center). This, together with its image as a modern, opulent style, made Art Deco designs especially suitable in varied applications. A three-dimensional example of Art Deco is found in the glass creations of the Frenchman, Rene Lalique. While he was a classic artist of Art Nouveau, he produced a special series of Art Deco glasses and bowls with geometric, floral, and stylized bird decorations.

Works influenced/inspired by Art Deco

art_deco_illuminating_clock_by_decoechoes Gilles Messier, Art Deco Illuminating Clock, Clock panel, 2010

art_deco_sky_light_by_muralsbylebold Michael LeBold, Art Deco Sky-light, Window with design, 1983


Art Deco. (2014). Retrieved October 26, 2015, from

Art Deco. (2015). Retrieved October 26, 2015, from

Art Deco: c. 1925-40. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from

Art Deco: Introduction to an Art Movement. (2014). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from


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