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#44 - Art_ndDesign XI - Art Deco

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Article written by
Rosa Cortázar Meléndez

Writing of the week

Going back to history, this time I'm going to talk about Art Deco, a parallel movement to Art Nouveau, which also developed in the Belle Époque, and could be considered as its opposite, although they actually show certain similarities. To visualise a little of what it is, before I explain it to you, you only have to think of The Great Gatsby, or an older but very well known film from that time, Metropolis by Fritz Lang.

The term was taken from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925, and it is not easy to define its main characteristics because it embraced all the arts and was intermingled with influences from other styles such as Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism, as well as drawing inspiration from Ancient Egypt, using, for example, palm trees for decorations, Mesopotamia, pre-Hispanic Mayan and Inca motifs and tribal Africa. Nevertheless, some main characteristics can be identified:

  • Use of geometry and symmetry (cube and sphere above all).
  • Use of straight and zigzag lines.
  • A palette of bright, golden or metallic colours.
  • Taste for expensive materials.
  • Representation of nature in relation to speed (lightning, gazelles) or of the machine.
  • Representation of working men and "free" women, with the garçon hairstyle and smoking (in contrast to the sensual women of Art Nouveau).

This movement fundamentally influenced the culture of its time, industrial design, typography, advertising and fashion, but the curious thing is that, 100 years later, it is a style that survives and has been revalued, especially in interior design (such as in bars) and signage.

Finally, for more information on the movement, here is a link to the "Art Deco Society of New York" https://www.artdeco.org/what-is-art-deco.

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