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What is Art Deco?

The Art Deco name refers to several variations of style in art, design and architecture popular in the era between the two world wars (1920-1940), and for a number of years before and after. In all its guises Art Deco reflects the essence of popular twentieth century design.

Decorative Style
Art historians confine the term to the decorative style created by French designers and culminating in the Paris Exhibition Arts Decoratif (1925) It principally is a geometric stylization and abstraction of natural forms in what has been called "the last decorative style". Cubist, Jazz and "primitive " motifs influenced the style, particularly when it came to America, where it also came under the influence of streamlining.

Streamline Moderne
The 1920s fascination with speed led to the development of streamlined automobiles, trains and ocean liners and this in turn was applied to everything from pencil sharpeners to architecture. USA had the technology and the manufacturing processes to realize the shapes and blended these with the Art Deco fashions. These adapted fashions were then rapidly spread around the world by magazines and the seductive Hollywood movie. Cinema buildings became the most recognisable expression of Art Deco for many members of the public.

International Modern
The purist approach of Bauhaus and the pioneer European architects Walter Gropius and LeCorbusier abandoned all spurious decoration, concentrating on developing forms that sprung from the new materials and techniques of the twentieth century. Nevertheless aspects of their work were absorbed into the populist examples of 1930s architecture often incorporating stylised decorative elements and are now frequently considered under the umbrella of Art Deco.

A tribute to architect W.G.Bennett

 

Typical characteristics of Decorative Deco
Illustration copyright Ron Facius

Typical characteristics of Streamline Moderne
Illustration copyright Ron Facius



Mosman Park Memorial Hall
Architect:Kreitmeyer & Rowe (1939)


 


 

 

 

Art Deco Society of Western Australia (Inc.)


PO Box 366 Kelmscott Western Australia 6991
Phone/Fax +61 8 9397 6928
artdeco@ntwa.com.au
Australia's First Art Deco Society
Member of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies