Art Deco & Modernism
As Art Deco developed, in some ways it evolved into the antithesis of its origins, employing bright colours rigid forms, controlled cuives, and the use of ovals and circular shapes. Art Deco was, as its name suggests, ornament for ornament's sake, and its inspiration was to make things look better than they were almost as if it tried to distract people's attention from the real world a much-needed relief from war.
In time, the style incorporated other influences, such as Cubism, and the movement progressed towards more geometric structures and the abolition of unnecessary ornament. It is at this point, around 1925 that Modernism stamped its authority. It was the Great Depression that shifted tastes towards the austere, and the frugal use of design elements mirrored this. Modernism in contrast with Art Deco was more of an aesthetic, a conscious push towards a design ideal. What many people consider to be classic Art Deco images, such as chrome and glass shelving, geometric leather furniture with veneered arms, and wonderful Cubist-style buildings incorporating a
Although one may be able to spot the transitions between the two styles in many areas of design, especially architecture and furniture design, the boundaries are blurred in the sphere of jewelry. Bright colours were popular and precious and semi-precious stones were employed to give striking contrasts. Jewelry had to be either conspicuous in its cost, as were the pieces from the great design houses of the time Cartier Boucheron, and Van Cleef Arpels, for example), or conspicuously fake. Coco Chanel helped to promote the fashion for the latter. Geometric forms were an immutable force in design new industrial materials were creeping into the jewelry world. In the early 1930s, chrome became popular for plating articulated links and plastics were increasingly used, as was UN plated brass. The move to Modernism was complete culminating in the sweeping curves and strong lines of the" Cocktail or Retro style
Cicada Pin, early 1920s
The cicada was a favourite motif of the Art Deco years. Many objects, including jewelry, were modeled in the form of this almost mystical insect the air of mysticism stems from its strange life cycle with most species the juevnile cicadas lay dormant living underground for a number of years, until bursting into life breeding, and dying all within a matter of days. Not much of a life sometimes many of these brooches were worn together giving the effect of a swarm of insects. Well thought out curve here and there, are not actually Art Deco in its true form but Modernism.
Modernist Chrome & Bakelite Bracelet, late 1920s—'30s
You can immediately identify the Modernist themes behind the design of this bracelet: all superfluous decoration has been stripped away and all that is left are simple lines and semi-circular curves. The contrast between the chrome links and black Bakelite also adds to the geometric, Modernist effect. It is probably French although this type of Modernist bracelet was also made in Germany and the United States.
Art Deco Inspirations
In a manner mirroring the influence of Japanese art on Art Nouveau, Art Deco also found inspiration from the Orient. It may not be obvious to us looking back after almost 100 years, but these influences expressed themselves in the use of onyx, black enamel, and carved jade; garden scenes rendered as brooches; the use of coral; and the popularity of chrysanthemums (the Japanese imperial symbol).
As Art Deco evolved, favourite motifs became more geometrical and the flowing, natural lines became stiff and unreal. Nature had little place in this look, and the man-made prevailed. People became obsessed with speed and travel, and trains, aeroplanes, and luxury ocean liners appeared as jewelry designs. Gone was the decorative root of Art Deco now velocity was king, aided by clean lines and the expulsion of extraneous detail.
Writer- Steven Miners