I just returned from the Art Deco World Congress 2013 held in Habana, Cuba and have been thoroughly inspired to present my very favorite Art Deco pieces to you. I want to share a range of items that came out of this movement, because the way it transformed everything from sculpture to lighting is truly astounding.
Though the movement was an expression of the progressive and forward-thinking attitudes of the Machine Age, this eclectic style was greatly influenced by the so-called “primitive” arts of Africa and ancient Egypt. The worldwide press coverage that the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb drew certainly popularized these elements. Translating organic themes into streamlined, mathematical shapes is one of the most well-known signatures of this striking design aesthetic. Take, for instance, this fabulous chandelier that displays a geometric Egyptian motif.
Mounted in luminous platinum and 18k gold, as well as featuring a link of the purest rock crystal, this Art Deco pin radiates the opulence associated with the movement. Whether worn as a brooch or in place of a buckle at the waist, on a wide grosgrain ribbon as a bracelet, as a hair ornament, or glitzing up a classic black satin evening clutch this pin is as versatile an accessory now as it was during the heyday of Art Deco.
Bearing the telltale streamlined elegance of Art Deco, this Cartier clock is crafted from a plaque of exquisite jade set into a frame of enamel-accented silver. This wonderful 8-day clock would have been at home in the most stylish of offices or residences.
Also by Cartier, this gold box captures the essence of Art Deco sophistication. Crafted entirely of 18K yellow gold, this exceptional objet d’art bears a sleek geometric pattern accompanied by contrasting black champlevé enamel on all sides. The box was most likely used as a cosmetics compact and would have been an essential accessory for a well-heeled lady. Such diminutive works of art are found most often in prestigious collections throughout the world, representing a bygone “golden age” of luxury and style.
Even the fine arts were impacted by the new ideals of Art Deco. “Friends Forever” by Demetre Haralamb Chiparus is a charming figure of a young girl and her two borzoi, or Russian wolfhound companions, comprised of patinated, cold-painted bronze and intricately carved ivory, a combination known as chryselephantine. The combination of ivory and bronze was pioneered in Belgium at the turn of the 20th century. Sculptors of the Art Deco period embraced this technique, re-interpreting the classical style to create figures of subtle beauty. Chiparus was a champion and master of this technique and he is credited with both perfecting and giving this form its Art Deco flavor.
All of these pieces express the various wondrous qualities of Art Deco. My time in Cuba certainly reinvigorated my love of Art Deco, and I hope this selection has piqued your curiosity. Which item interests you the most?