The Modern World During and After the World Wars, C. 1914–1960

Architecture and Design

What is Art Deco?

“Art Deco” is a term that describes a style of decorative arts popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s, though the term was coined later. Art Deco—originally called style mod-erne—began in France and gained prominence after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderne, an art and design expo held in Paris in 1925. Art Deco is characterized by the merging of fine arts with decorative arts and emphasized new support for the craftsman over the factory. Art Deco objects, illustrations, and buildings are often highly ornamental, something that was criticized by other modernist designers and writers, such as Le Corbusier (who favored a more industrial aesthetic). There are often exotic elements in Art Deco design, inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt in 1922. Abstract movements such as Cubism and futurism also inspired geometric motifs associated with Art Deco.


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