Thursday, 2 October 2014

Art Deco

The most amazing thing happened to me yesterday: The largest book I have ever put in my hands appeared at the new book rack at the Anna Amalia Library. It was so heavy I hesitated from lugging it home myself. Hilly refused to be my porter! 

Norbert Wolf's "Art Deco" (Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2013) weighed in at 3 kilos! The satisfying angle on this monstrous book is that my entire life, until I went off to graduate school in Cleveland was ART DECO. Detroit was the home town of Deco. General Motors HQ, the Fisher Building, my High School Edwin Denby, the Big Three auto factories, Chrysler HQ, the Ford HQ in Highland Park, the University of Detroit, and on and on. 

It was a style that rejected the Fancy Dan style of preceding decades. In 1913, Henry Ford invented mass production with the Model T, making autos accessible to almost everyone. Norbert Wolf's "ART DECO" (Prestel Publishing, Munich,2013) shows how this simplified style penetrated all of society. Not just buildings. 

In France it spawned Cubism and Futurism. In Europe in general it became the style of dictators. It made mass media more modern. It  generated the philosophical styles of Cubism and Futurism. Constructivism, Suprematism, and the Bauhaus appeared on the scene. The simplicities of the New Sachlikeit stressed simplicity. 

It affected Painting and Sculpture: Cassandre, DoDo, Tamara de Lempicki, Rudolph Belling and Grenzg√§nger thrived. It was a struggle between design versus style. Brace yourself for 285 pages of the most brilliantly chosen examples. I'll never tire of Wolf's eye on the significant. The heaviest book I have ever dragged is the loveliest swatch of the delectable. 

You miss this volume of splendid examples at your risk of terminal ignorance of Art Deco. Sure its text is German, but your eyes will never forgive you for passing the chance to be permanently dazzled.

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