What is Art Deco?

The Birth of Art Deco

The year is 1925. The most creative minds in the world are in Paris as the City of Light hosts the World’s Fair showcasing the culmination of it’s Style Moderne. Poet André Breton has just penned the Surrealist Manifest. American dancer Josephine Baker and musician Sidney Bechet have brought Jazz music and dance from America. Designer Coco Chanel, author Ernest Hemingway and artist Pablo Picasso and countless others are also there as The “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes”, or more familiarly, The Art Deco Exposition, launches a new era.

The Art Deco movement embraced elegance, glamour, simplified functionality, and celebrated modern materials and methods of construction. Additionally, Art Deco borrowed from Germany’s Bauhaus school by seeking to design complete works that borrowed from all the arts. Linear symmetry and mechanized precision replaced the flowing organic curves of the previous art nouveau movement.

The movement also embraced a new timeless globalism, abstracting from earlier movements and drawing inspiration from African, Asian and South American forms, as well as the astonishing recent discovery of Egypt’s great tombs.

In Europe the Art Deco movement stayed largely focused on the Arts, while in America, the movement moved quickly into the realm of architecture.

American Art Deco Architecture

The Art Deco movement quickly jumped to American in the 1920s and held steadfast until World War II. As many cities, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami amongst others, were expanding rapidly at the time, many iconic buildings sprang up across the country.

You can find a partial list of major Art Deco buildings in the U.S. here.