Le Jazz Hot: French Art Deco
Bonita Billman, instructor in Art History, Georgetown University
What is Art Deco? The early 20th-century impulse to create “modern” design objects and environments suited to a fast-paced, industrialized world led to the development of countless expressions, all of which fall under the rubric of Art Deco. But nowhere did Art Deco emerge more coherently than in France. The style moderne, as it became known in France during its development in the 1910s and 1920s, reached its zenith at the great Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in the summer of 1925. Two principal characteristics dominate French Art Deco: its simultaneous expression of both modernity and national historical precedent, and its alliance of art and craft. The first characteristic displays not only an object’s suitability to life in the modern world but also its special French character through its link with the past. The second demonstrates not only technical mastery - be it represented by an object made by hand or with machinery (makers certainly recognized that new materials and technology could provide improvements and refinements) - but also the aesthetic vision of the artist. Our speaker will discuss this vibrant movement involving jewelry, glass, furniture, fashion, metalwork, design and architecture as it occurred in France.
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