Art Deco represents a time without the stresses of today’s present climate. A time of optimism and luxury, the end of World War I bought an era of change. Bad times were over and the Art Deco movement was influenced by a society filled with anticipation, hope and freedom.
The machine age brought new inventions; electric lighting became common; the printing press transformed publishing; the radio pumped out the new popular music jazz; the ocean liner made dream holidays possible; skyscrapers changed the look of cities and aviation became realty.
Foreign travel became popular for the rich. In 1923 Coco Chanel came back from a cruise with the latest fashionable accessory, a suntan. The discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 started a worldwide fascination with Egyptian style and archaeology. Art Deco artists took great inspiration from this new world, encompassing the flamboyance of Hollywood and the theatre.
The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925 introduced the world to a modern new style, purely decorative, encompassing glamour, functionality and modernity. It took influences from French Decorative Cubism, German Bauhaus, Italian Futurism and Russian Constructivism. Rene Lalique’s crystal fountain was a prominent set piece of the Exhibition. Although the exhibition focused on France it was a truly global movement, an eclectic style with roots in India, East Asia, Latin America, Australia, the United States, Mexico and Africa among others.
Rooms with polished parquet floors were furnished with pale veneered furniture, handmade geometric patterned rugs, up lighters and lamps with female figures holding balls of light, sculptures, marble, lightening bolts, zigzags and chevrons, in bold and bright yellows, rubies, and turquoise.
Life was not to remain the same for long. In 1929 the stock market crashed and the Great Depression spread around the globe. By the early thirties Art Deco became an opulence that had no place during the depression, a reminder of dreams that never came. World War II in 1939 signified the death of Art Deco, glamour and frivolity was a distant memory.
Art Deco was revived twice. In the 1960s the world once again had optimism and Art Deco became fashionable. A lot of Art Deco buildings and interiors were refurbished. Again in the 1980s life returned to luxury and excess. Technology and leisure were at the forefront of society and Art Deco was revived once more and had a profound influence on artistic design with the emergence of pop art.
With little money around in these times of recession it is still possible to put some luxury and glamour back into your life and invest your money well with Art Deco antiques. Today it seems hard to believe that we will once again live life in excess, but even with a small budget there are Art Deco pieces to suit, and wisely chosen investments would give a very good return. Safe investments include ceramics by Suzie Cooper and Clarice Cliff, original art deco rugs and original art deco posters, glass and jewellery by Rene Lalique and Raymond Templer, and furniture by Eileen Gray, Emile-Jacques Rhulmann and Jacques Adnet. With prices at a low it is the perfect time to aquire a small reminder of a golden age.