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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...


Term generally applied to architecture and design movements between 1925 and 1945. Derived from the title of the international exhibition of industrial and decorative arts held in Paris in 1925, ‘Art Deco’ was coined in 1968 by British historian Bevis Hillier to describe the architecture and design arts of the 1920s and 1930s, known at the time as Art Moderne. In actuality, Art Deco is a catchall term for different developments in the design arts and architecture between the World Wars. In some circles, Art Deco is considered an outgrowth of French Art Nouveau, the German Jugendstil and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Architectural historian David Gebhard distinguished three styles within Art Deco architecture in America: ‘Zigzag Moderne’, ‘Streamlined Moderne’ and the more classically retrained ‘PWA Moderne’ or ‘Federal Moderne’. These same three, Robert Craig labels ‘Art Deco’, ‘Streamlined Moderne’ and ‘Modern classic in American architecture’. Design historian Jeffrey L. Meikle refers to varying Art Deco styles as ‘exposition style’, ‘modernistic’ and ‘streamlined’, avoiding using the phrase ‘streamline[d] moderne’ as it suggests a strong connection with the French Moderne style....


Richard Guy Wilson

Richard Guy Wilson

Stylistic term applied to architecture and decorative arts of the 1920s and 1930s whose origin partially lies with the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris (see Art Deco). The term was invented in 1966 and initially applied just to French 1920s design but shortly thereafter grew to encompass a wide variety of modernist architecture and design that displayed decorative traits that stood in contrast to the more austere Modern style sometimes known as Functionalism, Bauhaus style, or International Style. Synonyms for Art Deco have included Style moderne, Art Moderne, Modernistic, Cubistic, Manhattan style, skyscraper style, setback style, zigzag style, streamlined, stripped Classicism, Greco Deco, and others.

The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925 was a lavish spectacle of pavilions and exhibits that showcased the latest modern tendencies in French and foreign design. Originally scheduled for ...


Lisa Stone

(b Hamilton, AL, Dec 10, 1941; d Atlanta, GA, Nov 22, 1997).

American painter, printmaker, and collector. Brown was raised in Alabama, where his religious upbringing and interest in folk and material culture, comics aesthetics, and vernacular and Art Deco architecture were formative. He moved to Chicago in 1962 and earned a certificate in commercial design prior to studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where he gravitated to pre-Renaissance Italian art, Surrealism, artists Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, and Georgia O’Keeffe, and tribal art. Painter Ray Yoshida and art historian Whitney Halstead were seminal influences at SAIC. Both included folk, popular, and self-taught art within the scope of their teaching.

Brown earned his BFA (1968) and his MFA (1970) at SAIC. Works by Brown and fellow students were recognized by curator Don Baum, who organized spirited ‘Chicago School’ exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) from 1966 to 1971; Brown’s work was shown there with the group False Image (...


(b San Francisco, Jan 8, 1873; d New York, April 21, 1954).

American architect, teacher and writer. He studied engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1895, and then went to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1896), where he entered the atelier of Jean-Louis Pascal and received his diploma in 1900. In 1901 he joined the New York office of Cass Gilbert as a draughtsman, later going into partnership (1903–12) with F. Livingston Pell and, until 1922, with Frank J. Helmle. His earliest major commissions were won in competitions, including those for the Maryland Institute (1908–13) in Baltimore, a variation on a Florentine palazzo, and the classical Municipal Group building (1916–17) in Springfield, MA. From 1907 to the mid-1930s he lectured at the Columbia School of Architecture, which followed the Beaux-Arts educational system. The vertically expressive Bush Terminal Tower (1920–24) on 42nd Street, New York, with its prominent position and slight setbacks in buff, white and black brick, marked his début as an influential skyscraper designer and he maintained his leading position through the 1920s and 1930s. Both in his work and writing for the media, Corbett explored the creative potential of the ‘setback’ restrictions of the New York zoning laws of ...


(b Warsaw, 1898; d Mexico, March 18, 1980).

American painter of Polish birth. She lived among the wealthy aristocracy in St Petersburg and fled with her husband from the Russian Revolution of 1917. In 1918 she arrived in Paris, where she studied briefly at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse, before studying under Maurice Denis at the Académie Ranson, and then under André Lhote. Lhote’s theories of composition, his insistence on careful figure studies and the precise application of paint, often using pure colour, provided the groundwork for her own style of freely interpreted Synthetic Cubism. This rapidly became identified with Art Deco and with modernity of style and subject-matter. All her paintings were carefully composed. She made little attempt to create three-dimensional effects, but using hard, angular lines and shapes contrasted against rounded, soft forms, she created a highly stylized view of the world, in particular of the sophisticated society of Paris (e.g. Andromède, 1929...


revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Blue Earth, MN, Nov 23, 1894; d Vero Beach, FL, April 20, 1989).

American interior and industrial designer. Deskey gained a degree in architecture and studied painting before working in advertising. From 1922 to 1924 he was head of the art department at Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA. In 1921 and 1925 he made trips to Paris, where he attended the Ecole de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi, before returning to New York in 1926 as a champion of modern art and design. In 1926–7 he created the city’s first modern window displays for the Franklin Simon and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. In 1927 he was joined by the designer Philip Vollmer, and the partnership became Deskey–Vollmer, Inc. (to c. 1929). Deskey expanded into designing interiors, furniture, lamps, and textiles, becoming a pioneer of the Style moderne (as Art Deco was known in America). His earliest model for the interior of an apartment was shown at the American Designers’ Gallery, New York, in ...


Jean-François Lejeune

(b Live Oak, FL, Feb 16, 1901; d Long Island, 1949).

American architect. Dixon studied at Georgia School of Technology in Atlanta (1918–20) and joined the firm of New York architects Schultze & Weaver in 1923, where he learned the practice of hotel architecture as “total design,” worked on projects such as the Roney Plaza Hotel on Miami Beach, and was introduced to the discipline of the Art Deco language by Lloyd Morgan. Returning to Florida in 1929, Dixon worked for George Fink, Phineas Paist, and Harold D. Steward before opening his office and building his first apartment-hotel (the Ester) on Miami Beach in 1933. Until 1942 Dixon was the foremost architectural innovator in Miami Beach where, along with colleagues such as Henry Hohauser, Albert Anis, and Roy France, he adapted the architectural innovations coming from Europe and New York to the middle-class programs of the southern resort; employing inexpensive construction techniques, Dixon created a its unique “vernacular modern” architectural fabric. Until Igor Polevitzky in the 1950s, Dixon was the most published Florida architect in such periodicals as ...


Jason Tippeconnic Fox

(b Cernauti, Bukovina [now in Ukraine], Jan 2, 1875; d Stamford, CT, March 5, 1954).

American architect of Austro-Hungarian birth. Eberson is noted as an influential specialist in Cinema design, especially “atmospheric” cinemas. He was educated in Dresden and at the College of Technology in Vienna, where he studied electrical engineering. Eberson immigrated to the United States in 1901 and transitioned to architectural design through work with the St. Louis-based Johnston Realty and Construction Company. This led to the establishment of Eberson’s eponymous architectural firm, although sources differ in regard to the precise date and initial location. The main office relocated from Hamilton, OH to Chicago in 1910 and to New York in 1926. In 1928, his son Drew Eberson (1904–89) became a full partner in the firm, which was renamed John and Drew Eberson, Architects.

Eberson’s early theaters such as the Palace (1914) in Minneapolis were predominantly conventional classically inspired designs. However, in 1923 he set himself apart with the completion of his first fully realized “atmospheric” movie palace, the Majestic in Houston. Atmospheric theaters gave audiences the illusion of sitting in a courtyard beneath the twinkling stars and rolling clouds of the night sky. The electronic nocturnal effects were enhanced by sidewalls resembling the picturesque facades of adjoining buildings, lush foliage, stuffed birds, bubbling fountains and statuary. While the open sky effect was not without precedent, Eberson employed it as part of a larger theme, typically Italian or Spanish, which shaped the design of the entire theater....


Paul Crossley

(b Prague, 1879; d Princeton, NJ, Jan 30, 1962).

American art historian. He first trained as an architect but, in his early thirties, he turned to the study of art history and in 1911 submitted his doctoral dissertation at Munich University on 15th-century stained glass in southern Germany. Under the influence of his teacher, Heinrich Wölfflin, Frankl soon attempted a systematic definition of the formal principles underlying Renaissance and post-Renaissance architecture. His first theoretical work, Die Entwicklungsphasen der neueren Baukunst (1914), was strongly influenced by the visual formalism and philosophical idealism of German art history in the decades before World War I. It isolated four main categories of analysis, which were fundamental to much of his later investigations: spatial composition, treatment of mass and surface (‘corporeal form’), treatment of light, colour and other optical effects (‘visible form’), and the relation of design to social function (‘purposive intention’). His emphasis on spatial analysis as a determinant of style relied heavily on August Schmarsow’s works on Baroque and Rococo architecture. His concept of ‘visible form’ (sometimes called ‘optical form’), which presupposes that viewers derive their experience of a building kinetically, as the mental synthesis of many images from different viewpoints, owed much to late 19th-century theories of perception, in particular to Konrad Fiedler’s and Adolf von Hildebrand’s emphasis on the physiological and psychological processes of seeing, and to Alois Riegl’s notion of ‘haptic’ and ‘optic’ forms. Frankl’s principal debt, however, lay in his adoption of Wölfflin’s quasi-Hegelian model of style as a predetermined, supra-individual force, impelled onwards by its own immanent laws, and evolving from one art-historical period to another through the action and counter-action of ‘polar opposites’: the underlying formal principles of a style are diametrically antithetical to those of the styles preceding and succeeding it....


Gordon Campbell

(b Vienna, Oct 14, 1886; d Los Angeles, 1958).

American furniture designer, born in Austria. He emigrated to the USA in 1914 and worked first in New York and later in Los Angeles. His most famous work is his ‘skyscraper’ furniture, which first appeared in 1926; many pieces were maple, and inlaid with Bakelite (e.g. skyscraper bookcase, 1927; New York, Met.). Frankl later specialized in metal furniture and in Art Deco furniture decorated with black lacquers and gold and silver leaf....


Leland M. Roth

American architectural partnership formed after 1881 by William Holabird (b American Union, NY, 11 Sept 1854; d Evanston, IL, 19 July 1923) and Martin Roche (b Cleveland, OH, 1 Aug 1853; d Chicago, IL, 6 June 1927). Holabird was the son of an army general. He became a cadet at the US Military Academy, West Point, but left in 1873 after two years. With this brief introduction to engineering he moved to Chicago and entered the office of architect William Le Baron Jenney. There he met Martin Roche, who had moved as a boy to Chicago, where he attended the Art Institute, which he left in 1867 to begin an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker. In 1872 Roche entered Jenney’s office, where the approach to architectural design was highly functional, with concern for economy of means, the opening up of interior space and the maximum use of natural light. Both Holabird and Roche probably served as draughtsmen on Jenney’s First Leiter Building (...


Mark Alan Hewitt

(b Brooklyn, New York, Aug 15, 1867; d Pittsburgh, PA, Dec 13, 1961).

American architect and campus planner. The son of Edward Hornbostel, a stockbroker, and Johanna Cassebeer, Hornbostel was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He trained in architecture at Columbia University (BA 1891) and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (1893–7). Hornbostel distinguished himself as a superb draftsman and renderer, earning in Paris the name, “l’homme perspectif.” His first job following college, with the New York firm of Wood and Palmer, led to a partnership in 1900. He remained with the firm of Palmer & Hornbostel for the remainder of his career.

Hornbostel first earned distinction for his work with the Board of Estimate and Apportionment in New York City, assisting engineers in the design of bridges. Between 1903 and 1917 he was responsible for the architecture of the Queensborough, Manhattan, Pelham Park and Hell Gate bridges—spans for both automobiles and trains. His masterpiece, the Penn Central Hell Gate viaduct (...


R. Windsor Liscombe

Canadian architectural partnership formed in 1921 in Vancouver by John Young McCarter (b Victoria, British Columbia, 12 Aug 1886; d Vancouver, 21 May 1981) and George Colvill Nairne (b Inverness, Scotland, 14 Nov 1884; d Vancouver, 18 April 1953). McCarter trained in Victoria and then with Thomas Hooper (1859–1931) in Vancouver (1907–12). Nairne practised in Cardiff, Wales, Seattle and Nanaimo, British Columbia, before joining Hooper (1911–13). With the completion in 1925 of the modern Gothic David Spencer Store (now part of the Sears Tower complex) they became the most celebrated exponents in Vancouver of contemporary architectural trends, remaining so until the 1950s. The Medical–Dental Building (1928–9; destr. 1989) was their first essay in Art Deco, which they perfected with the Marine Building (1928–30), 335 Burrard Street, Vancouver, an Art-Deco masterpiece upon which their reputation chiefly rests; it is ornamented with terracotta panels and was then the tallest building in Vancouver. McCarter Nairne’s sophisticated eclecticism is particularly evident in the Federal Office Building (...



North American city and seat of Dade County, located on Biscayne Bay at the mouth of the Miami River in south-eastern Florida. It is a major seaport and tourist resort. Greater Miami (population c. 2.6 million) includes Miami Beach, Coral Gables, North Miami, and Hialeah, and, together with smaller districts, forms the southern limit of Florida’s so-called Gold Coast. In the 16th century Spanish explorers discovered the Tequesta Indian village of Mayaimi on the southern bank of the estuary; in 1567 a Jesuit mission and fort were established on the site, although its fate is unknown. In 1743 the Jesuit mission of S Ignacio was founded on what later became Coconut Grove, and the Spanish crown granted local land to Spanish gentry. In 1821 the US Government purchased the state of Florida from Spain. The landowner Julia D. Tuttle arrived in 1873 and was among the founders of modern Miami, encouraging the oil magnate ...


James D. Kornwolf

[Róth Imre]

(b Galszecs, Hungary [now in Slovakia], 1871; d New York, Aug 20, 1948).

American architect of Hungarian birth. He emigrated to Chicago when he was 13 and soon entered the office of Burnham & Root. There he did work for the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), which brought him to the attention of Richard Morris Hunt, whose office in New York he joined in 1895. He developed his planning and interior design skills working for Ogden Codman jr, before establishing his own office in 1898. His first real opportunity came in 1903 when he was employed by Leo and Alexander Bing, then New York’s leading property developers. The major influence on him was not the Chicago style of Burnham & Root, but rather the classicism of the Columbian Exposition, as well as the Aesthetic Movement and architecture associated with Arts and Crafts. A certain stylization in some of his buildings suggests the Art Nouveau idiom helped to produce Art Deco.

Roth’s reputation rests on the very large number of high-rise buildings that he built between the World Wars in New York, many of them flats or hotels, often situated on or within a few blocks of Central Park, for example the Hotel Dorset, 30 West 54th Street or the San Remo Apartments, 74th Street and Central Park West. His unique style, characterized by tower-like compositions (his response to the city’s setback requirements) and traditionally detailed with combinations of Italian and Spanish Renaissance detail, had a notable impact on the skyline of Manhattan. The formally more elaborate higher storeys of his buildings are functionally justified by their more spectacular views and by the fact that penthouse units are larger and cost more. In the 1930s Roth made a foray into Art Deco with the Ardsley Apartments (...


Richard Guy Wilson

(b Decatur, IN, Dec 18, 1883; d Flemington, NJ, Dec 5, 1960).

American industrial designer and writer. Between 1903 and 1907 he studied at evening classes at the Art Students League in New York, while working as a sign-painter. He then worked as an advertising illustrator, in particular for Calkins & Holden, a pioneering agency that specialized in the use of art for illustrations and in advising clients on the appearance of their products. Between 1911 and 1928 Teague worked as a freelance illustrator and commercial artist and became known for his use of classical typography and decorative borders, as in the layout and borders for Time magazine (1923). In 1926, while travelling in Europe, he discovered the work of Le Corbusier and in particular his book Vers une architecture (1923). On his return to New York that year he decided to pursue a career in designing or restyling products and packages for manufacturers. In New York at that time a group of individuals including Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss began to establish industrial design as an independent occupation, promoted by the foundation of the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen in ...


Paul Louis Bentel

(b Vienna, 1872; d New York, July 10, 1933).

American architect, stage designer, interior designer and illustrator of Austrian birth. He studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna under Karl Hasenauer. Urban first received recognition as an architect in the USA in 1904 when his design for the interior of the Austrian Pavilion at the World’s Fair in St Louis, MO, was awarded a Gold Medal. He subsequently established himself in Europe as a stage designer; in 1911 he emigrated to the USA to assume a position as set designer with the Boston Opera Company.

After the completion of the Ziegfield Theater (1922), New York, Urban solidified his reputation as an architect with unexecuted proposals for several large theatres. For the Metropolitan Opera House, intended as the focal point of the first schemes for the Rockefeller Center (1926–8), he proposed a semi-circular seating arrangement, to which he added galleries that projected from the proscenium into the seating area to break down the separation between audience and stage. In ...


Janet Adams

(b Brooklyn, NY, 1888; d New York, May 24, 1954).

American architect. While studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, he was apprenticed to Clarence True, a speculative builder in New York, after which he joined the local firm of Copeland & Dole and later Clinton & Russell. Van Alen also studied under Donn Barber (1871–1925) at the Beaux-Arts Institute in New York and in 1908 won a fellowship to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under Victor A. F. Laloux. From 1911 to 1925 he was in partnership with H. Craig Severance (1879–1941) in Manhattan.

Van Alen established the firm’s reputation for progressive skyscraper design. However, his most notable buildings, all in New York, were executed after the partnership ended. Among these were the headquarters for the Childs Restaurant chain (1926), as well as the Reynolds Building (1928) and, the most spectacular, the Chrysler Building (1928–30; see fig....


John F. Pile

( Thomas )

(b 1889; d 1973).

American architect. He was apprenticed for three years before attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (1909–11). In 1916 he was the winner of the Rotch Traveling Scholarship. He joined the office of McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin, New York, in 1919, becoming a partner in 1926 when the firm became Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker. Walker’s works included the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (1923–6; see fig. ), the Western Union Building (1928–9) and the Irving Trust Building (1928–31), all skyscrapers in New York in the setback Modernist style later referred to as Art Deco. After 1939 the firm became Voorhees, Walker, Foley & Smith and produced many large projects including the Bell Telephone Laboratories (1937–49) at Murray Hill, NJ, several buildings for the World’s Fair of 1939 in New York and office, laboratory and research centres for American companies. Walker was prominent in professional circles, received various honours and was president of the American Institute of Architects from ...