The Art Deco style manifested across the spectrum of the visual arts: from architecture, painting, and jewelry to the fashion and decorative arts. While Art Deco practitioners were often paying homage to modernist influences such as Cubism, De Stijl, and Futurism, the references were indirect; it was as though they were taking the end results of a few decades of distilling compositions to the most basic forms and inventing a new style that could be visually pleasing but not intellectually threatening.
We have collected the 6 most inspirational Art Deco books. Each book has their unique qualities that open up the possibility to explore the world of Art Deco – geometric shapes, intense, vibrant colours and drawings that rely on bold designs, clean lines and patterns.
The Arts & Crafts Movement
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This quote alone from William Morris could summarise the ideology of the Arts & Crafts movement, which triggered a veritable reform in the applied arts in England. Founded by John Ruskin, then put into practice by William Morris, the Arts & Crafts movement promoted revolutionary ideas in Victorian England. In the middle of the “soulless” Industrial Era, when objects were standardised, the Arts & Crafts movement proposed a return to the aesthetic at the core of production. The work of artisans and meticulous design thus became the heart of this new ideology, which influenced styles throughout the world, translating the essential ideas of Arts & Crafts into design, architecture and painting.
The Bauhaus movement (meaning the “house of building”) developed in three German cities – it began in Weimar between 1919 and 1925, then continued in Dessau, from 1925 to 1932, and finally ended in 1932-1933 in Berlin. Three leaders presided over the growth of the movement: Walter Gropius, from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer, from 1928 to 1930, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, from 1930 to 1933. Founded by Gropius in the rather conservative city of Weimar, the new capital of Germany, which had just been defeated by the other European nations in the First World War, the movement became a flamboyant response to this humiliation. Combining new styles in architecture, design, and painting, the Bauhaus aspired to be an expression of a generational utopia, striving to free artists facing a society that remained conservative in spite of the revolutionary efforts of the post-war period.
Using the most modern materials, the Bauhaus was born out of the precepts of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, introducing new forms, inspired by the most ordinary of objects, into everyday life.
1000 Monuments of Genius
Since the mythical Tower of Babel, humans have continuously tried to erect monuments to match their oversized egos. With ancient ziggurats, the Taj Mahal or the Empire State Building, man has for centuries demonstrated his force by raising structures for purposes both religious and profane. As international cultural statements without words, symbols of a peoples values devotion, patriotism, power symbols of a civilisation’s grandeur, these monuments still fascinate and attract an ever-growing public who is captivated by the creativity and ingenuity of these architects and stonemasons. Their historical message goes far beyond mere art history, for they tell us of the lives and evolution of the peoples of the past, as does the Parthenon in Athens, many times destroyed, rebuilt, reused, attacked, pillaged, and restored once again today. This work, featuring 1000 monuments chosen from around the globe, retraces human history, the techniques, styles, and philosophies necessary for the construction of so many splendours over the centuries, providing a panorama of the most celebrated monuments while evoking the passion of their makers.
Through his eclecticism, William Morris (1834-1896) was one of the most emblematic personalities of the nineteenth century. Painter, architect, poet and engineer, wielding the quill as well as the brush, he jolted Victorian society by discarding standards established by triumphant industry. His commitment to the writing of the Socialist Manifesto was the logical result of the revolution he personified in his habitat, the form of his design and the colours he used. Forerunner of twentieth-century designers, he co-founded with John Ruskin the Arts and Crafts movement. As an independent man, William Morris led the way to Art Nouveau and later Bauhaus. Through the essential body of his written and visual work, Arthur Clutton-Brock’s masterwork deciphers the narrow relationship between ideals and creation, as well as between evolution and revolution.
An icon in the Art Nouveau movement, Émile Gallé (1846-1904) sought to portray the beauty and simplicity of nature in his glass art. His designs, referred to as “poetry in glass”, range from fine pottery to jewellery to furniture. Everything Gallé produced contains traces of his masterful technique which reflects his innovativeness as an artist and his skill as a designer. In this rich text, Gallé unravels the beauty and ingenuity found within his own work.
A jeweler with an established reputation through the world, Louis Comfort Tiffany was the spearhead of the Art Nouveau movement in the United States. At a time and in a country in perpetual growth, Tiffany succeeded in elevating the decorative to the rank of fine art. Glass was the field of expertise of Tiffany’s workshops. There they developed groundbreaking techniques of treatment which produced beautiful effects on glass. Following the examples of Gallé or Daum, Tiffany made the most of this material: playing with colors, opaqueness and transparency… However, his most famous success is his lamps in mosaic of glass, similar to the cathedral’s stained glass window. Diving into this prism of colors, the author makes us dream again of the birth of this enduring company.
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