Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: Art Deco by Victoria Charles & Klaus H. Carl

8879754Title: Art Deco
Series: n/a
Author: Victoria Charles, Klaus H. Carl
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Art
Publisher/Publication Date: Parkstone Press; March 1, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Art Deco style was established on the ashes of a disappeared world, the one from before the First World War, and on the foundation stone of a world yet to become, opened to the most undisclosed promises. Forgetting herself in the whirl of Jazz Age and the euphoria of the “Années Folles”, the Garçonne with her linear shape reflects the architectural style of Art Deco: to the rounded curves succeed the simple and plain androgynous straight line… Architecture, painting, furniture and sculpture, dissected by the author, proclaim the druthers for sharp lines and broken angles. Although ephemeral, this movement keeps on influencing contemporary design.

I’ve always been kind of interested in Art Deco. Not for architectural reasons, because I’m not an architect. Instead, I was interested in the look of it, for the aesthetics. I decided to pick up this book because I was going to do some art inspired by Art Deco and wanted to know more about it before I dove into a long, time consuming project. This book wasn’t very long. It was more of a technical read that delved into a lot of the history about the subject. Despite that, I liked this book a lot. It was divided into three primary sections: Architecture, Painted and Sculpted Décor; Furniture and Furniture Sets; and Jewelry. I liked all three, but my favorite one was the section on jewelry even though it was the smallest with the least amount of pages.

This book went over things I already knew about and other facts I wasn’t familiar with. It covered some of the influences and work that went into making Art Deco what it is. There was a lot of information accompanied by photo examples of work by noteworthy architects and industrial designers—such as Donald Deskey—that I hadn’t heard of before. There was one quote that seemed to best represent what most of the book is trying to explain:

“They did not in any way disavow tradition, but rather reconnected with it, reuniting art with functionality and developing a contemporary expression which is the obvious result of previous expressions” (p.120).

Even now, there’s such a contemporary feel to some of the furniture and buildings. And I found it interesting to read about how a broader range of building materials and techniques contributed to its creation. Those things attributed to the freedom to create a style that was both a work of art and practical because it was functional in daily life. There were paragraphs that talked about light weight/ reinforced concrete and how “marble panels can be fixed more firmly to it than brick” (p.24). There were pages that further delved into the finer details that explained the many painted and sculpted décor, ironwork, and panels among other things.

“Art Deco no longer sought to please through unnecessary ornamentation, but rather through moderation: balanced forms, harmony of proportions and tones, and a contrast of lights and shades—such are its essential principals” (p.113).

I have a better understanding of Art Deco, and I’ve really come to appreciate it . It was fascinating how buildings became art, and furniture became fixtures in a room in the same way someone would hang an art print. Needless to say, this book was good...

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