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Article

Art Deco  

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

Art Nouveau  

Michèle Lavallée

[Fr.: ‘new art’]

Decorative style of the late 19th century and the early 20th that flourished principally in Europe and the USA. Although it influenced painting and sculpture, its chief manifestations were in architecture and the decorative and graphic arts, the aspects on which this survey concentrates. It is characterized by sinuous, asymmetrical lines based on organic forms; in a broader sense it encompasses the geometrical and more abstract patterns and rhythms that were evolved as part of the general reaction to 19th-century historicism. There are wide variations in the style according to where it appeared and the materials that were employed.

Art Nouveau has been held to have had its beginnings in 1894 or 1895. A more appropriate date would be 1884, the year the progressive group Les XX was founded in Belgium, and the term was used in the periodical that supported it, Art Moderne: ‘we are believers in Art Nouveau’. The origin of the name is usually attributed to ...

Article

Arts and Crafts Movement  

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

Gothic Revival  

Georg Germann, Melissa Ragain, and Pippa Shirley

Term applied to a style of architecture and the decorative arts inspired by the Gothic architecture of medieval Europe. It has been particularly widely applied to churches but has also been used to describe castellated mansions, collegiate buildings, and houses. The Gothic Revival has also been described by many scholars as a movement, rather than style, for in the mid-19th century it was associated with and propagated by religious and political faith. From a hesitant start in the mid-18th century in England and Scotland, in the 19th century it became one of the principal styles of building throughout the world and continued in some huge projects until well into the 20th century (e.g. Episcopal Cathedral, Washington, DC, 1908–90; by G(eorge) F(rederick) Bodley and others). ‘Gothic Revival’ became the standard English term when Charles Locke Eastlake published A History of the Gothic Revival (1872). The word ‘Gothic’ had by then definitely mutated from a depreciatory epithet into the denomination of a style or period of medieval architecture. To distinguish medieval Gothic from modern Gothic, most European languages used the prefix ‘neo-’ (e.g. Dut. ...

Article

Japonisme  

Phylis Floyd

French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in 1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field of study—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs (similar to 18th-century Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, prints and decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century have distinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, from Japonisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.

There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art and over the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under the influence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga (‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of ...

Article

Objects of vertu  

Gordon Campbell

[objets de vertu]

Decorative work in a fine material (e.g. glass, porcelain, semi-precious stones, silver or gold) that is attractive because of its antiquity, beauty and quality of workmanship. ‘Vertu’ (It. virtù) refers to a taste for curios or other works of art. The traditional form objets de vertu combines French and English spellings; as the Italian sense of ...

Article

Passementerie  

Fringes, tassels and trimmings applied to Upholstery, especially to window curtains and bed-hangings. Also used to decorate textiles for clothing and other purposes, passementerie covers seams and outlines edges and contours. It greatly enhances the finished appearance of furnishing textiles, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it often represented considerable extra expense.

The finest passementerie was produced in France by master trimming-makers (passementiers), who followed an apprenticeship of up to five years: Diderot’s Encyclopédie shows passementiers at work on specially constructed looms. Simple trimmings were often made at home, for example the white linen knotted fringes popular in England in the late 17th century and early 18th.

Passementerie is made from silk, linen, wool, cotton and metal thread (gold and silver). The flat, narrow trims take various forms. Gimp is made from very stiff, wrapped or overspun silk cord, which holds its shape when bent into loops or points. ...