Art Deco in focus

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Art Deco was a wide ranging style of design that influenced all manner of objects, buildings and fashion. It was first seen in the early part of the 20th Century in France but it wasn't until after World War I that it became more widely know. The name Art Deco was born in Paris in 1925 at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Although some say the name is retrospective and was coined by Hilary Gelson in 1966 whilst writing in The Times to describe the a new interest in the form. The styles it used combined fashionable artist styles of the time like Cubism and Fauvism with rare and expensive materials whilst always aiming to be thouroughly modern. There were elaborate non-functional decorative details such as sunbursts and decadent motifs. It had a luxury traditional yet modern and mechanised feel. It looked to the future using tools and emblems of the past.

Before World War I, another movement was prevalent, that of Art Nouveau. Art Deco drew on the visual representations of its predecessor, for example, the plant and floral forms, and a new modern style was created. Art Deco had influences from all around the world, including the Far and Middle East and is known for taking the ideas from these countries that made use of symmetry, geometric and angular shapes, bright colours, stylish fonts and highly skilled craftsmenship. The object were not generally mass-produced, despite being influenced my machines and modernity.

The clean shapes with a streamlined look were glamorised by Hollywood, being featured by some of the most elaborate movie sets and costumes, giving an international appeal and setting it apart as a truly modern look. This was all a far cry from the reality of post-war depression and it was the outbreak of World War II which put an end to Art Deco until various revivals decades later.

Art Deco example