Art Deco Furniture................................. Styles of Architecture
Art Deco in Buffalo, NY
Art Deco was the first widely popular style in the United States to break with the revivalist tradition (see, for example, Gothic Revival or Greek Revival or Italianate).
The name Art Deco comes from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes, held in Paris, which celebrated living in the modern world. The term was coined and popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The style began in France but America became the center of the artistic movement.
Art Deco was essentially a style of decoration and was applied to jewelry, clothing, furniture and handicrafts as well as buildings. Industrial designers created Art Deco motifs (patterns) to adorn their streamlined cars, trains and kitchen appliances. Art Deco ornamentation consists largely of low relief geometrical designs, often in the form of parallel straight lines, zigzags, chevrons and stylized floral motifs.
The practitioners of the style attempted to describe the sleekness they thought expressive of the machine age. The growing impact of the machine can be seen in repeating and overlapping images from 1925; and in the 1930s, in streamlined forms derived from the principles of aerodynamics.
Cubism heavily influenced the shapes used in Art Deco.
During the Depression, very few buildings (especially houses) were constructed. One exception was New York City where rectangular skyscrapers next to narrow sidewalks were being built, the result of which was that very little light was reaching the pedestrian sidewalks. Thus, in 1924, a "setback" ordinance was passed: upper stories of a tall building were stepped back from the lower stories to allow more light to reach the street. Art Deco buildings in other cities imitated the setback feature to the extent that it became a common feature for Art Deco buildings.
The largest concentration of Art Deco buildings is in New York City (skyscrapers) and Miami (apartment houses).
See also: Francis R. Kowsky, 4.2.7 Art Deco (1925-1940) in Broadway-Fillmore, Buffalo
Common Art Deco features:
- Vertical emphasis
- Steel frames
- Flat roofs
- Setbacks (steplike recessions in a wall) emphasizing the geometric form
- String courses
- Geometric ornament: parallel straight lines, zig-zags, chevrons, lozenges (diamondlike shape, but not a square)
- Stylized (abstracted) floral motifs
- Stylized figure sculpture
- Octagonal lamps, clocks
- Sunrise and floral patterns in ornamentation
- Intense colors in terra cotta, glass, colored glazed bricks, mosaic tiles, and colored mirrors
- Hard-edged low relief ornamentation around door and window openings, e.g. stepped frontispiece and stepped window head
- Volutes in door surrounds
- Strips of windows with decorated iron grille work in surrounds to add vertical feeling
- Metal windows: sash, casement
- Although straight-headed windows are more popular, an occasional circular window or rounded window and door jamb is found
- Buildings are" stripped down" to their purest forms
- Especially in Europe, various avant-garde painting styles of the early twentieth century: Cubism, Russian Constructivism and Italian Futurism
- Reaction to the sensuousness and flowing lines of Art Nouveau
- Ancient Egypt (Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered in 1922)
- Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas
Structural Glass and Art Deco
The dramatic growth and popularization of the early 20th century Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles were fueled, in part, by technological advances in the building materials industry. New products, such as stainless steel and plastics, enlarged the realm of architectural design. The more traditional materials, on the other hand, quickly developed fresh, innovative forms and uses. For example, the architectural glass industry became especially creative, introducing a series of new glass products known as structural glass. Used predominately for wall surfacing, these now familiar products included
The versatility of pigmented structural glass contributed to its popularity. Not only could the material be applied to both the exterior and interior, the glass could he sculptured, cut, laminated, curved, colored, textured, and illuminated. Often applied directly over existing architecture to remodel older buildings, as well as in new construction, a veneer of pigmented structural glass had the ability to define a building's architectural character as new and up-to-date. Pigmented structural glass also complemented the period's silvery metal accents and affinity for slick, shiny surfaces.
By the second decade of the 20th century, consumers viewed pigmented structural glass as an inexpensive substitute for marble counter tops, table tops, wainscoting, and restroom partitions.
Sometimes Art Deco is distinguished from Moderne, which is a variation from Art Deco in the 1940s. Although somewhat different in their overall appearance, both styles share stripped down forms and geometric-based ornament. The distinction is not relevant is describing Art Deco furniture.
Common Moderne features:
- Horizontal orientation
- Rounded edges, corner windows, and glass block walls
Examples of Art Deco buildings in Buffalo:
- City Hall
- Central Terminal
- Pierce-Arrow Showroom
- Kleinhans Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery
- Buffalo Industrial Bank
- Bennett Apartments
- Kensington High School
- Morris Manor Apartments
- Courier Express Building
- Vars Building
- 427-443 Delaware Avenue / Buffalo Design Collaborative Building
- Liberty Bank Branch, 892 Genesee St.
- Rand Building
- 800 West Ferry Venetian Gothic Revival ornamentation
- Electric Tower Interior Art Deco
- Photo - WBEN Building, Grand Island
- Photo - 194 Franklin St. (Art Moderne)
- Stations of the Cross, paintings - Buffalo Religious Art Center
- 1933 Pierce Silver Arrow
- Cigarette trash can - North Park Theatre
- Illuminated sign - North Park Theatre
- Niagara Hudson Building/Niagara Mohawk Power Building/National Grid Building of Syracuse, NY
- Norton Memorial Hall, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY
- Art Deco Vases at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York
- Photos - Three Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass windows on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
- Chrysler Building, New York City
- Empire State Building, New York City
- Royal Institute of British Architects Building, London, England
- Café Americain, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Photo - Tuscan Square, 10 W. 51st St., New York City Metal grate around a tree. Most unusual!
- Photo - Sculpture, Gare de Cornavin, Geneva, Switzerland
- Photo - Lettering, Marché Malassis, Paris
- Photo - Round windows, Marché Malassis, Paris
- Photo - Railing, Marché Malassis, Paris
- Photo - French poster: Pianos Daudé