Where and when was the origin of Art Deco?
One place where Art Deco originated from was Vienna, where Fritz Wärmdörfer, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser founded a workshop for elegant interior designs in 1903. In this workshop, influenced by the English and Scottish Art Nouveau styles, they established the basis for the style of those accessories and pieces of furniture that would be called Art Deco 22 years later. In 1925 there was a world exposition in Paris for industrial design and applied arts, the "Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes", which lent its name to the Art Deco style. Some other revolutionary innovations of the international avant-garde shown at the exposition were, besides other things, plywood furniture and a "living machine" designed by Le Corbusier.
Which categories belong to Art Deco?
Art Deco can roughly be divided into two main sections: architecture and commodities, or rather their industrial design.
Architecture in the style of Art Deco
There are also no explicit characteristics that would define the architectural Art Deco design. However, there are some commonalities like elegant shapes and elements from past great cultures.
Even to this day, one can find whole streets or even city districts but also individual buildings all around the world that exude this special kind of elegance. One example for this is the French city of Reims that has been rebuilt almost completely in the Art Deco style after being severely destructed during the first world war. The same is true for Napier, a coastal city in New Zealand, and Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, both of which are almost entirely products of the Art Deco style. Other well-known places are the Art Deco district of Miami Beach/USA, and the Art Deco buildings in the city of Bandung on West Java. The most famous Art Deco buildings worldwide are New York City's Chrysler Building, the theatre and cinema Le Grand Rex in Paris and the Theatro Eden in Lisbon. In Germany, the most well-known examples of Art Deco are Berlin's Renaissance Theatre and the Grassi Museum in Leipzig.
Commodities and works of art between Art Nouveau and Functionalism
When it comes to commodities and works of art, Art Deco is situated between the preceding Art Nouveau style with its vines and floral shapes on the one hand, and the geometric elements of Functionalism on the other hand. Lush and opulent decoration is just as much a characteristic of Art Deco as the usage of precious materials such as silver, bronze, ivory, nacre, crystal, ebony or exotic leathers. Industrial design also used completely new materials like synthetics or metals with a chrome coating. Vehicles became more streamlined, dresses either showed floral patterns or clear geometrical figures and were made of luxurious fabrics such as brocade or silk adorned with extravagant lace trimmings and elaborate embroideries. The start of the second world war was the end of the Art Deco period, as there was no time for its exhibition of luxury and opulent decorations any more. Yet, there have always been admirers of Art Deco and even today one is able to decorate with either originals that are still in good condition or perfect replicas of Art Deco objects.
Art Deco paintings - elegance and vigour combined
Characterised by precious, novel materials like silk, porcelain, ebony and metals such as aluminium and chrome steel, the artistic movement developed its characteristic extravagance. Art Deco paintings take up this new dynamic and bring about carefree and sensual motifs. Art Deco paintings often show a kind of creative perfection of powerful colours and jaunty shapes, which are usually characteristic features of expressionist painter Henri Matisse or the artistic genre of Fauvism. Furthermore, one can find a certain kind of playfulness in the paintings, which is often accentuated by floral or organic elements stemming from Art Nouveau. Additionally, typical Art Deco paintings contain a strong coat of paint which often involves an extensive design. This style of painting sometimes creates a bold impression which is achieved by the deliberate resignation from naturalness and shadows. Another influence of this decorative art was the cubist way of painting, which can be seen in the division of the forms. All in all, this art genre uses a clear-cut and at the same time simple way of painting which exhibits a glamorous way of life.
Famous Art Deco paintings
There is a large number of artists who are deemed pioneers of Art Deco. Therefore, the following list of artists will be a short, but representative one. One of those painters is Erté, who was based in St. Petersburg and who was also called Romain de Tirtoff. His most famous Art Deco paintings are "Glamour", "Sunriseß", "Gala", "Monaco", "Veil Gown", "Faubourg St. Honore", "Directoire", "Place de l'Opera", as well as several different versions of his work "Evening Dresses and Curtains". Having worked as an illustrator, fashion designer and stage designer, Erté is said to be one of the most important representatives of Art Deco design. His style, which shows elements of Cubism, represents a connection to the elements of the exotic Decorativism.
Another highly valued artist in the segment of Art Deco painting is Poland's Tamara de Lempicka. Some of her artistic works are "Girl in Green" or "Young Lady with Gloves", "The Female Sleeper", "The Beautiful Rafaela", "Eve and Adam" and "Mr Tadeusz de Lempicki". Tamara de Lempicka has been viewed as the face of the Art Deco artistic style, gaining a lot of followers with her beauty and her ability to create beautiful things. Her paintings combined a certain coolness with elements of the Renaissance and of Cubism. Lenicka skilfully added an air of sensuality and glamorous spectacle to her compositions, hitting the nerve of that period of time. Another set of Art Deco paintings that are widely known today stem from French painter George Barbier. Born in Nantes, the Art Deco illustrator and fashion designer created precious pieces of art such as "Lovers in the Snow", "Farewell", "La vie Parisienne", "Fashion Plate Depicting Ladies in Redfern Evening Dress and Borromean Isola Bella in the Background", "Falbalas Et Fanfreluches", "L'Envie" or a number of so-called George Barbier illustrations that were continually well received among followers of the Art Deco movement.
The forms of the figurines and sculptures are characterised by a special elegance. Both the use of strong colours but also of light pastel colours are part of Art Deco. Sensuality is of high importance when it comes to the creation of a sculpture, just as it does in architecture and painting. Novel materials like steel or Bakelite are used, but older, precious materials such as marble, bronze or gold are included as well. It is the use of clear lines and geometrical shapes, but at the same time the dominant floral and organic elements that turn Art Deco figures into something special. However, the high quality of the finished figurines is an important criterion as well.
Female dancers - the most well-known Art Deco Figures
The biggest group of Art Deco figurines with a particular theme are female dancers. Those figurines show the slender femininity of dancing women with a high level of sensuality. The dancers are portrayed in different positions, both in the nude as well as dressed. Yet one can always see at first glance that the figurines depict dancers and not ordinary women.
The materials that are used for creating the figurines are quite diverse: ranging from porcelain and marble to bronze. Most of the time, the dancers simply remain in the colour of the used material, but they also feature quite strong colours in some cases. In order to accentuate the preciousness of these objects, the figurines are also adorned with elements of glass, nacre or gold. The most common combination of materials used to create these figurines is a bronze figurine on a base that is often made of marble. Aside from delicate dancers, there are also portrayals of animal figures. Those animal figurines often exhibit strong colours and are seldom left with the original colour of their material. Preferred motifs are predators like tigers, wolves or birds of prey.
What role do figurines and sculptures play in Art Deco?
The Art Deco style is characterised by sensuality and beauty. Even though Art Deco sculptures are supposed to surpass mere functionality, they can possess everyday functions nonetheless. Consequently, there are figurines that, for instance, are part of lamps or pieces of furniture. The prevailing majority of figurines and sculptures, however, was created for purely aesthetic reasons. Art Deco figurines embody modern design and reflect the newly gained self-confidence of women by making the female dancer and femininity itself their main themes.
One of the most famous Art Deco sculptures is the "Female Dancer" by Romanian sculptor Dumitru Haralamb Chiparus. It portrays a revue dancer whose position appears quite sensual and who is characterised by its beauty. The sculpture consists of bronze on a dark marble base and shows a lot of details like arm and hair decorations. The artistic style of Art Deco uses its figurines to portray the changes in society, especially the strengthening of women, depicting the time between the two world wars with all its ups and downs.
Art Deco sculptures and their creators
As Art Deco turns away from the purely everyday function of objects and instead puts the focus on sensuality, decoration and beauty in general, figurines and sculptures are highly valued in this artistic genre. However, a sculpture's creator is often not as famous as the sculpture itself.
Dumitru Haralamb Chiparus and his female dancers
The most important and most well-known creator of the prettiest sculptures within Art Deco is the native Romanian Dumitru Haralamb Chiparus. His chryselephantine sculptures belong to the most important works of the epoch. The models for his figurines were mainly dancers of the famous Russian ballet. He wanted to pay homage to the modern woman of the Twenties, therefore paying special attention to detailed works and high-quality materials. In the production of his sculptures, he worked with bronze, ivory and enamel. The delicate faces of the depicted ladies are heavily stylised and the slender outward forms of their bodies are captivating due to their exquisite simplicity and noble elegance. Sculptures and figurines by Chiparus are nowadays among the works of this period that generate the highest prices.
Chiparus "Female Dancer", with its elegant, graceful posture, belongs to the most significant works of art of its time. Just as exquisite and unique in its appeal is the "Egyptian Dancer" which is inspired by the Egyptian royal graves. The sculpture captivates due to its delicate ivory and the precious reddish golden robe that is effectively draped around its hips. In addition to the dancers that were inspired by the ballet, Chiparus' sculptures of children are also ranked as quite important works of Art Deco. This is mainly due to his first series of children sculptures still being influenced by Realism. By comparing the figurines of the children with the dancers that were created later on, one can excellently see the artistic evolution from Realism to Art Deco.
Ferdinand Preiss' ivory
The German ivory sculptor Ferdinand Preiss developed into one of the leading artists of Art Deco. The main period of his work started in 1910 and ended with his death in 1943. By working with ivory, he put his finger on the pulse of Art Deco and rapidly became one of the most important artists of the time. His delicate works mainly consisted of bronze and were artfully painted and refined with a combination of carved onyx and ivory. During the years of war, he moved a part of his art works to the US and to England, where he established a little workshop. A small assortment of his most significant works bear the names "Sitting Nude", "Diana", "Fire Dance" and "Veil Dance".
Bruno Zach's eroticism
Another important artist of the artistic style of the Art Deco sculpture is the Ukrainian Bruno Zach. After his migration to Australia, he studied at the Viennese Academy under the guidance of Hans Bittlicher and Josef Müllner. The bronze and ivory statues by Bruno Zach, who sometimes also signed his works as Zack, represent tall, very slim and dominating women with an immensely erotic aura. A prime example for this is his statue "The Riding Crop", which shows a rather sadomasochistic motif. Other significant Art Deco sculptures by Bruno Zach are "Lady at Phallus", "Woman with Dog and Bow", "Kicking Girl" and "Nude Woman Strip". Original castings of "The Riding Crop" were sold for more than $150,000 at an auction in 2011. As one can see, works of Bruno Zach are still in demand.
Art Deco figurines for sale online
Figurines by Dumitru Haralamb Chiparus, Bruno Zach and Ferdinand Preiss are of course included as well. Every single bronze Art Deco figurine has been cast by hand, using the lost-wax technique. This way we make sure that you will get a high-quality bronze figurine that will give you lasting pleasure.
Furthermore, Bronze Shop offers you ideal shopping conditions. You can take a closer look at all the articles in our range of products, to observe and examine them from all sides. There is also no problem if you do not want to keep your Art Deco figurines or sculptures, as we offer you an unrestricted right to return them within the first 14 days after your purchase. Additionally, you can choose between all common payment options: purchase on account, direct debiting, credit card payment, cash on delivery or cash in advance. Just choose the option that suits you best and is most comfortable for you. After your order, we will carefully pack up your Art Deco sculpture or figurine and deliver it to the shipping company within 48 hours. Depending on how long the package will be on its way, you will receive your ordered article within a few days. In the case of Germany, this will usually be 3 to 4 days after you completed your purchase.