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Art Deco: A Research Guide: About

This guide will provide an overview to the time period and movement known as Art Deco.

Art Deco was an international decorative style that ran from 1919 to 1939. Known initially as "le style moderne" or "Jazz Moderne," the style received its current name in 1968, during a period of scholarly reappraisal. Art Deco developed first in France, and attracted international notice through a government-sponsored exposition held in 1925.

After 1925, designs increasingly reflected the rapid artistic and technological innovations of the period between two world wars, incorporating chic elegance, eclectic historical and national imagery, and Machine Age forms into an effervescent decorative vision. Art Deco originated in a time of intense aesthetic experimentation; art movements such as the Bauhaus, Constructivism, Cubism, De Stijl, Futurism, Orphism, and Surrealism helped define the style's inherent modernism.

Art Deco design exemplified opulent consumption, crass commercialism, and the acceleration of contemporary life summed up in the Futurist credo "Speed is beauty." Art Deco's greatest achievement, however, came in its mature phase, when designers liberated the machine from long-standing artistic contempt.

The Art & Architecture Collection has excellent holdings of primary resource materials on Art Deco, including pattern books, design manuals, and catalogues from the original Paris Exposition of 1925. Many secondary resource materials are also available in the Library collections, from monographs on art, architecture, and design to survey histories of the period.

Original text from Paula Baxter's Art Deco: A Research Guide (2009)

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Art & Architecture Collection Reference Librarians
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