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Article

Suzanne Tise

Descriptive term applied to a style of decorative arts that was widely disseminated in Europe and the USA during the 1920s and 1930s. Derived from the style made popular by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, the term has been used only since the late 1960s, when there was a revival of interest in the decorative arts of the early 20th century. Since then the term ‘Art Deco’ has been applied to a wide variety of works produced during the inter-war years, and even to those of the German Bauhaus. But Art Deco was essentially of French origin, and the term should, therefore, be applied only to French works and those from countries directly influenced by France.

The development of the Art Deco style, or the Style moderne as it was called at the time, closely paralleled the initiation of the 1925...

Article

Alan Crawford

Informal movement in architecture and the decorative arts that championed the unity of the arts, the experience of the individual craftsman, and the qualities of materials and construction in the work itself.

The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the second half of the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th, drawing its support from progressive artists, architects and designers, philanthropists, amateurs, and middle-class women seeking work in the home. They set up small workshops apart from the world of industry, revived old techniques, and revered the humble household objects of pre-industrial times. The movement was strongest in the industrializing countries of northern Europe and in the USA, and it can best be understood as an unfocused reaction against industrialization. Although quixotic in its anti-industrialism, it was not unique; indeed it was only one among several late 19th-century reform movements, such as the Garden City movement, vegetarianism, and folksong revivals, that set the Romantic values of nature and folk culture against the artificiality of modern life....

Article

Margot Gayle

revised by Carol Gayle

(b Badger’s Island, Portsmouth, NH, Oct 15, 1806; d Brooklyn, New York, Nov 17, 1884).

American iron manufacturer and builder in cast iron. Beginning as a blacksmith’s apprentice, he was in Boston by 1830 making decorative wrought ironwork at his own smithy. In 1842 he built Boston’s first example of an iron-fronted shop, a one-storey combination of iron columns and lintels that allowed large glass display windows. The following year he began producing rolling security shutters that fitted into grooves in the iron columns, having bought the patent from Arthur L. Johnson (1800–60). The ‘Badger front’ design was sold and copied across the USA, winning a gold medal at the American Institute Fair (1847).

In 1846 Badger moved to New York City, where he continued to manufacture his ‘fronts’. Soon afterwards he began producing the new form of iron building, commonly called ‘cast-iron architecture’, promoted by James Bogardus: structures with self-supporting, multi-storey exterior iron walls, constructed of cast-iron panels and columns bolted together. From ...

Article

Margot Gayle and Carol Gayle

(b Catskill, NY, March 14, 1800; d New York, April 13, 1874).

American inventor, engineer, designer and manufacturer. He trained as a watchmaker’s apprentice in Catskill, NY, worked as an engraver in Savannah, GA and again in Catskill. About 1830 he moved to New York City to promote his inventions. He secured many patents for various devices, including clocks, an eversharp pencil, a dry gas meter and a meter for measuring fluids. His most remunerative invention was a widely useful grinding mill (first patented 1832), which provided steady income throughout his life. During years spent in England (1836–40) he was granted an English patent for a postage device and won £100 in a competition with his proposal for a pre-paid postal system. He also observed the extensive use of iron in the construction of British factories, bridges and large buildings. After a trip to Italy, he conceived the idea of erecting prefabricated multi-storey structures with cast-iron exterior walls that reproduced Classical and Renaissance architectural styles. Returning to New York in ...

Article

Damie Stillman

Architectural and decorative arts style that flourished in the USA from shortly after the acknowledgement of independence in the Treaty of Paris (1783) until c. 1820. The term is derived from the period surrounding the creation of the federal constitution in 1787 and was in use in a political sense by that year. Essentially it was a form of Neo-classicism, strongly influenced by manifestations of that style in England and, to a lesser extent, in France; but at times certain more conservative qualities inherited from the previous Colonial period are also present. The inspiration of European, and especially English, Neo-classical architecture was to be expected in a society grounded in that of 18th-century England; but an added impetus was the association often cited at the time between the fledgling American republic and the ancient Roman one.

Although a few indications of European Neo-classical influence are found in the American colonies before the Revolution began in ...

Article

Martha Pollak

(b Nuremberg, Jan 4, 1940).

American architect of German birth. A graduate of the Technische Hochschule in Munich (1965), he pursued architectural studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, where he studied with Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan. Having joined the respected Chicago architectural firm of C. F. Murphy in 1967, he became Principal of the renamed office Murphy/Jahn (1981), then President (1982) and Chief Executive officer (1983). Jahn’s reputation is due to the great number, prominence, and memorable character of his buildings. Using broad references from architectural history and appealing to a public visual memory nurtured on cartoons and Hollywood movies, he made use of a wide range of sources from the recent and distant past for his architectural compositions. Many of his works—eclectic pastiches that unite familiar and exotic elements—overwhelm the surrounding context and baffle the visitor with colour, megalomaniac scale, and effective use of sophisticated American construction techniques. New materials and structural ideas are used by Jahn with a consummate virtuosity that endows his buildings with the dramatic expression, movement, and restrained energy previously reserved for the harnessed power of applied modern science (rockets, nuclear stations). Simultaneously with the scene designers of contemporary science-fiction films, he realized the fantastic architecture projected in the 1920s and 1930s for a ‘brave new world’. This quality and its immediate visual appeal are most evident in the skyscrapers of the 1980s such as the Xerox Centre (...