Art deco

The art deco period lasted from 1919 to 1939 – or 1949 according to some writers. It was challenged by the Modernist architecture of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe which emphasised function and lack of decoration. Art deco – which took its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris – positively valued it. It tended to emphasise geometric motifs, rather than the floral and animal ones of art nouveau. Strands within art deco were influenced by Egyptian decoration following the discovery of Tutankamun’s tomb in 1922, by aeroplanes and railway engines. Stylised low-relief sculptures were another common theme. Art deco buildings were quintessentially for leisure: hotels, cinemas, swimming pools, pubs, garages – except in the USA where skyscraper office blocks were its main expression.

Here are a few examples, mainly from London, Paris, New York and Napier in New Zealand.