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Re: Are we still on the Art Deco thread?

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 16, 2004

In Reply to: Sorry, I should have addressed that last comment to Bob, not R Berg posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 12, 2004

: : : : : : : : thanks Berg.
: : : : : : : : and here is the context:
: : : : : : : : The spikey-topped General Electric building seems like a wild extension of the church, its slender shaft rising to a meshed crown of abstract sparks and lightning strokes that symbolises the radio waves used by its original occupant, RCA. The lobby (entrance at 570 Lexington) is yet another Deco delight.
: : : : : : : : any help?

: : : : : : : It is as R Berg says, it means an 'Art Deco Delight'. Art deco is a type of architecture popular in the late nineteenth century and revived 2 or 3 of times since then. Ummm... I think, the 1920's, '30s and the 50s (but don't quote me on those dates, they're just a guess). With a few fairly current revisions also occurring. But it wasn't just architecture, the style occurred throughout art, even crockery, clothing, furnishings, all sorts of things. It was very 'modern' in the sense that it was angular, streamlined and stylish and conveyed a sense of opulence as well. I say conveyed a 'sense' of opulence, because often they cheated. eg. Veneers were big. So timber lined walls and opulent looking timber furniture, was often really quite cheaply built but covered with stunning veneers. But not everything was cheap and nasty.

: : : : : : : There's a town in New Zealand (I've heard about, but never been there), called Napier. Apparently in 1931 it was flattened by an earthquake. The whole town was rebuilt all at once, so the architecture of the town is apparently trapped in that time wharp. I'm told that whole town is Art Deco in design.

: : : : : : : Just up the road from where I live, in the Blue Mountains - NSW Australia, is a town called Katoomba. This town is largely filled with late 19th century Art Deco buildings. I've no doubt there are many other towns throughout the world like these too.

: : : : : : : The GE building being referenced in your example is an Art Deco building, hence when the author was referring to its lobby, he was referring to the delightful Art Deco design. This building is almost Gothic in design, and well, I don't know, but maybe gothic is the early foundation of Art Deco. I've never considered that possibility before, but maybe some architectural or design buffs out there could enlighten me. And if you look at the designs in the fictitious Gotham City (no doubt a reference go Gothic styling there too), it's all Art Deco.

: : : : : : : I've added a link below. This site shows original photos of a hotel up the road from Katoomba, in Medlow Bath. This was once a natural spa and hotel resort for the well-to-do in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This hotel of course has since been refurbished several times. The first time I saw inside was in the 70's when it underwent a hideous and criminal 70's refurbishment. It has since been redone, more in keeping with the original, but still a bit disappointing.

: : : : : : : Sorry, got a bit carried away. As you probably guessed, I LOVE Art Deco. And I cut & paste this link in, so I don't know if it will work.

: : : : : : : http://www.nla.gov.au/apps/picturescatalogue?action=PCSearch&mode=search&term1=nla.pic-an23048509&attribute1=ParentPermanentName&PI=nla.pic-an23048509&Creator=&TI=Collection+of+photographs+of+the+Hydro+Majestic+Hotel+and+other+scenes+in+the+Blue+Mountains%2C+New+South+Wales+%5Bpicture%5D.&CN=PIC%2F6015%2F1-54+LOC+Box+PIC%2F6015*

: : : : : : Lantis and others: Readers of your posts will have an easier time if you leave intact what you're replying to.

: : : : : : Lap and others: Copying a URL into your text won't make it a usable link. Instead, the URL goes in the "Optional Link URL" box. A description goes in the "Link Title" box.

: : : : : Oh - thanks. Clearly I had no idea. Thanks heaps. So did it work this time?

: : : : I too had no idea and I will from now on.

: : : Well ... the link box does no carry forward, so it doesn't appear on later posts. Putting the url into the text is not a link, but it IS an address one can copy and paste to reach the address. So, maybe the best would be to do both. And ... the NSW photos are interesting, 19th C., but Not Deco.

: : I think R Berg you'd have to take a lot of experts to task if you said the Hydro wasn't deco. Also bear in mind, that basic architectural styles, eras and influences vary from country to country. eg. I've seen Victorian architecture in various parts of America and in London (which we'd have to assume would be the home of said style). The American versions are very different to the London versions, and very different again to the Victorian architecture in Australia. Although, you can see common threads sufficient to work out they belong to the same era and had similar influences.

: : The 19C deco style you see at the Hydro I've seen elsewhere, particulary in 'spa' locations. Deco isn't all just angular pointy stuff. Have you seen the real thing - ie. the Hydro? Although now it's been renovated in such a way as to water down a lot of the original stuff I'm afraid. But if you'd seen it beforehand, I don't think you'd doubt the architectural style was art deco.

There is an excellent discussion of Art Deco in the Encyclopedia Britannica online. The word is from the French, Arts Decoratives something something (I haven't read the article in a while), and it was indeed the fashion in the 1920s and '30s. Besides the RCA building in NYC, there is the Chysler BUilding and the Empire State BUilding, all easily viewed by any tourist in the BIg Apple. As I recall, the EB article did not mention the drawings of John Held and others, but Art Deco affected not only architecture, but also magazine and book illustration (in a big way, and at least a few times parodied by Playboy Magazine), and almost every type of design where a modernistic, streamlined effect was possible. Later revivals can seem a little forced. but an interesting parody appears in the series of Agatha Christie stories featuring Hercule Poirot which not long ago appeared on British TV. The set designers worked overtime to produce logos, music and architecture suggesting Art Deco. They scoured London to find the Art Deco apartment house in which Poirot had a flat. Do you remember that speeding locomotive that appeared early in each episode, along with music in the style of the '20s? Very Art Deco. The locomotive that pulled the "20th Century Limited" on the tracks of the New York Central Railroad was also in Art Deco style. Don't forget Art Nouveau as one of the progenitors of this style. I, too, am somewhat of an enthusiast, although I think the style is by now played out. SS