Friday, July 31, 2009

Andre Durenceau design work 1928

The Art Deco design spanned two different and distinct styles within one overall genre. Whereas other decorative movements tended towards a particular style, medium or subject, the decorative movement that dominated the 1920s and 1930s was much more fluid and varied.

The Art Deco movement was an incorporation of both the previous design style of Art Nouveau with its dependence on the floral and to some extent the geometric, and the leading art movements of the early twentieth century, particularly the abstract ideas of Cubism and the geometrical ideas of Constructivism which were digested and then reissued by the Bauhaus.

Andre Durenceau design work 1928

The two major influences on the Art Deco decorative style, that of Art Nouveau and Modernism, did not clash with each other, or even try to cancel each other out, but in fact they came together to create a seamless design style that was able to incorporate traditional floral work, abstraction and minimalism in the one overall style that became Art Deco.

It must be remembered that designers tend to section off the look or style of an art movement, without necessarily taking on the philosophy, purpose or meaning of that movement. Art Deco designers were able to incorporate the look of Modernism because it gave the decorative effect of being both painterly, but also contemporary. It worked particularly well with floral based design work as the florals were still recognisable, but were abstracted enough to appeal to the new world of the 1920s and 1930s that was being set out by designers, manufacturers and retailers.

Andre Durenceau design work 1928

Extreme geometrical abstraction worked very well for the design world and whether it was used for textiles, ceramics, carpetry or marquetry inlaid work, the public were willing to embrace the style within interiors and accessories, where they might have been more reluctant if it were represented as a piece of art work.

It is interesting how the two mediums can both reflect the trends and styles of the day, but the decorative arts can disarm the offending and often intrusive isms of the art world, by portraying them as inoffensive patterns. Although the design world often borrows heavily from the art world, and has done so through most of the twentieth century, it does have a tendency to slowly accustomise the general public to the contemporary world around them.

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