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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

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 ...

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

Marco Livingstone

(b Washington, DC, Dec 26, 1924; d in Albany, NY, Feb 9, 2013).

American sculptor and painter . He studied art in 1949–50 under Amédée Ozenfant in New York. During the 1950s he designed and made furniture in New York, but after a fire that destroyed most of the contents of his shop in 1958 he turned again to art, initially painting abstract pictures derived from memories of the New Mexican landscape.

Artschwager continued to produce furniture and, after a commission to make altars for ships in 1960, had the idea of producing sculptures that mimicked actual objects while simultaneously betraying their identity as artistic illusions. At first these included objets trouvés made of wood, overpainted with acrylic in an exaggerated wood-grain pattern (e.g. Table and Chair, 1962–3; New York, Paula Cooper priv. col., see 1988–9 exh. cat., p. 49), but he soon developed more abstract or geometrical versions of such objects formed from a veneer of formica on wood (e.g. Table and Chair...

Article

Hugh Davies

(b San Lorenzo, nr Reggio di Calabria, March 10, 1915; d Barto, PA, Nov 6, 1978).

American sculptor and furniture designer of Italian birth. After settling in the USA in 1930, he studied at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Detroit (1936), and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI (1937–9), where he taught metalworking and produced abstract silver jewellery and colour monoprints. In 1943 he moved to California to assist in the development of the first of a series of chairs designed by Charles O. Eames. His first sculptures date from the late 1940s. In 1950 he established himself in Bally, PA, where he designed the Bertoia chair (1952), several forms of which were marketed by Knoll International. His furniture is characterized by the use of moulded and welded wire; in the case of the Bertoia chair, the chromium-plated steel wire is reshaped by the weight of the sitter. Bertoia also worked on small sculptures, directly forged or welded bronzes. The first of his many large architectural sculptures was a screen commissioned in ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Boston, MA, July 10, 1868; d La Mesa, CA, Jan 25, 1962).

American book-illustrator and designer of posters, typefaces and furniture. In 1893 Bradley began designing for Vogue magazine. He subsequently worked for Ladies’ Home Journal, and in 1901–2 published an influential series of eight articles on ‘The Bradley House’; the designs in these articles (and another three in 1905) seem not to have been implemented, but they nonetheless exerted a seminal influence on public taste and on subsequent furniture design; his designs for pianos were used by Chickering & Sons of Boston. Bradley also designed two series of plates for Royal Doulton: ‘Golfers’ (...

Article

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

Article

Experimental architectural program that ran from 1945 to 1966 and involved the building of Modernist houses, largely in California. John Entenza (1903–84) hit upon the idea just after World War II of spreading the word of the Modern Movement in architecture through an actual building program. As editor of the left-leaning journal California Arts and Architecture (later Arts and Architecture), he was concerned that the aftermath of wars was usually a period of conservatism in which progressive ideas were set aside. He wished to keep the spirit of the New Deal of the 1930s alive in architecture.

Entenza used the journal to promote interest in a program in which he would choose a major Modernist architect to design a house which, when built, the general public would be invited to tour. After such exposure, he would sell the house and use the proceeds to build another house designed by a Modernist. It would also be open for inspection—and so on. Needless to say, his plan was based on faith alone. Surprisingly, the idea worked. Entenza’s first six houses were toured by 368,554 people, all of them curious if not approving. Thirty-eight commissions were proposed and twenty-six were actually built, giving such architects as ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Emporia, KS, Nov 6, 1932).

American furniture designer. He normally worked in wood (sometimes exotic wood), but has also made furniture in plastic and fibreglass; his finest work reflects his mastery of laminated wood. Castle’s decorative furniture is strongly sculptural; his designs are markedly individualistic, but nonetheless evince debts to the traditions of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement. His best-known designs are the Molar chair and loveseat designed for Stendig in ...

Article

Merrill Halkerston

(b Portland, ME, March 4, 1832; d New York, March 26, 1920).

American painter, interior designer and writer. Colman grew up in New York, where his father, Samuel Colman, ran a successful publishing business. The family bookstore on Broadway, a popular meeting place for artists, offered Colman early introductions to such Hudson River school painters as Asher B(rown) Durand, with whom he is said to have studied briefly around 1850. Having won early recognition for his paintings of popular Hudson River school locations (see Storm King on the Hudson), he was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1854. Most of Colman’s landscapes of the 1850s, for example Meadows and Wildflowers at Conway (1856; Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar Coll., Frances Lehman Loeb A. Cent.), reveal the influence of the Hudson River school. An avid traveller, he embarked on his first European tour in 1860, visiting France, Italy, Switzerland and the more exotic locales of southern Spain and Morocco. His reputation was secured in the 1860s by his numerous paintings of romantic Spanish sites, notably the large ...

Article

Betzy Dinesen

Term applied to an architectural and interior design style prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the USA and Australia, countries formerly colonized by Britain. The style, used mostly for domestic architecture, was based on buildings of early colonial periods and had much in common with the contemporary Neo-Georgian tendency in Britain (e.g. Annie Longfellow Thorp House, 1887); later developments on the west coast of the USA drew on Spanish styles. It became popular in response to a reaction against the ornate eclecticism of late 19th-century architecture and the search for a new aesthetic: Colonial Revival was promoted as a ‘national’ style, rooted in the foundations of the nations and suited to their environment and culture. A similar stimulus produced revivals of colonial styles in other countries, such as South Africa, where the Cape Dutch style was revived in work by Herbert Baker around the end of the 19th century, and Brazil, where features of Portuguese colonial architecture appeared in the work of ...

Article

Arnold Berke

(b Pittsburgh, PA, April 4, 1869; d Santa Fe, NM, January 8, 1958).

American architect and designer. Raised in St Paul, MN, Mary (Elizabeth Jane) Colter graduated in 1890 from the California School of Design in San Francisco, then taught mechanical drawing at a St Paul high school and contributed to local Arts and Crafts societies as lecturer and craftswoman. These pursuits nourished Colter’s love of Native American art and the Southwest, interests also fostered by her first professional projects—the interior of the Indian Building at the Santa Fe Railway’s Albuquerque station (1902) and the Grand Canyon’s Hopi House (1904), modeled on an Indian village. She completed both for her lifelong employer, the Fred Harvey Co., the famous purveyor of travel services, which hired her full-time in 1910.

Colter designed hotels, train stations, tourist attractions, restaurants and shops—at the Grand Canyon and along the Santa Fe line. She based her designs on Native American and Hispanic cultures and on the western landscape, and, through rigorous research, fashioned environments to charm the leisure traveler. The most dramatic is the Watchtower (...

Article

Robert M. Craig

Early 20th-century American manifestation of the late 19th-century international Arts and Crafts Movement and similarly grounded on the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris. The Craftsman Movement married Ruskin’s concept of an architectural morality with Morris’s ideal of art as quintessentially “doing a right thing well,” and called for artists to embrace the idea that the worth of an object is inherent in the pleasure in its making. Led in America by furniture maker Gustav(e) Stickley, the movement preached honesty in materials, elimination and simplification in design (as a reflection of a simpler life), and an integration of art and beauty into domestic life. A non-elitist craft of building embodying values of handiwork and “pleasure in labor” would result in a democratic architecture of good character available to the Everyman.

Stickley designed and manufactured furniture, and published designs for houses as appropriate settings for his honest and straightforward oak tables and chairs and built-in bookcases. He illustrated his work and point of view in ...

Article

Penny Sparke

(b New York, NY, Dec 20, 1865; d Versailles, July 12, 1950).

American interior decorator, active also in France. Born in New York, in the early 1890s she became a professional actress, wearing couture clothes on stage. Recognized as a better “clothes horse” than actress, she transformed herself, aged 40, into an interior decorator. This was partly made possible by the support of her female companion, Elizabeth Marbury, with whom she lived from the early 1890s until World War I, in a house in Irving Place, New York.

Although de Wolfe’s first major interior decorating project, the Colony Club (1905–7) in New York, was undertaken in a Colonial style, on the many projects that she undertook over the next decade across the USA, she used a revived French 18th-century style that was favored by her nouveau riche clients, among them Lolita and J. Ogden Armour, based in Chicago, and Ethel and William H. Crocker in California. In 1913 she wrote a highly successful decorating advice book, ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Eames  

David Gebhard and Gregory Gallagan

American architects, designers, and film makers. Charles (Orman) Eames (b St Louis, MO, 17 June 1907; d St Louis, 21 Aug 1978) and his wife, Ray Eames [née Kaiser] (b Sacramento, CA, 15 Dec 1916; d Los Angeles, CA, 21 Aug 1988), formed a partnership after their marriage in 1941 and shared credit for all design projects. Charles Eames studied architecture at George Washington University, St Louis (1924–6). He then worked part-time as a draughtsman for Wilbur T. Trueblood and Hugo Graf in St Louis. In 1929 he travelled in Europe, looking at both old buildings and the newly emerging work of the International Style. In the early 1930s he associated himself with Charles M. Gray, with whom he had worked in Trueblood’s office. The Depression severely limited commissions, and in 1934 he travelled and worked in Mexico. He returned to St Louis in ...

Article

Malka Simon

[Lift]

Platform, often enclosed, that lifts and lowers people and freight via a system of cables and motors. The development of the passenger elevator in the 19th century encouraged the spread of the Skyscraper, altering the profiles of American cities.

Lifts and hoists had been used since ancient times, but the danger posed by a snapped cable limited their practicality. In 1851, Elisha Graves Otis invented the elevator safety brake. He demonstrated it dramatically at the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1854 by severing the elevator cable that held him aloft. Otis’s brake, together with his development of an independent power source for the elevator car, made commercial applications possible. The first commercial passenger elevator was installed in New York’s Haughtwout Building in 1857.

Elevators made buildings above five stories viable. Chicago and New York especially benefited from the new technology as their growth boomed in the late 19th century. With limited room to expand outward, they built upward instead, pioneering the distinctly American form of the skyscraper. Elevators, along with the steel frame and central heating systems, encouraged the proliferation of tall buildings. Constant refinements in lift technology made elevators feasible even in the highest towers. Steam power gave way to hydraulics and then electricity, cars moved increasingly faster and elevator operation ultimately became completely automated....

Article

Cecile Johnson

(b Detroit, MI, Nov 17, 1929).

American sculptor and draughtswoman. She had no formal art education but from an early age enjoyed making useful domestic furniture, such as shelves and cupboards. After moving to live and work in New York in 1952, she became involved in the arts in various ways, taking classes in leatherwork and pottery and, through her job at the Henry Street Settlement, coming into contact with dance and theatre. In the 1960s she attended performances and Happenings at the Judson Gallery and Judson Church and herself performed in two of Claes Oldenburg’s Happenings (1962 and 1965), which influenced her. At this time she was making various sorts of sculpture. She began making the work for which she became known in the 1970s. It typically comprises wooden pyramidal/ziggurat-type constructions, made by stacking horizontally layered steps. An early mature work is Hollow Core Pyramid (plywood, 0.61×0.61×0.61 m, 1974; Glen Ridge, NJ, Levy priv. col.), for which the inspiration was an unwrapped mummy, which she found intensely ‘beautiful, haunting and evocative’; she wanted her own work to have a similar quality. Other early works for which she is known include ...

Article

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....

Article

Michael Spens

revised by Carla Tilghman

(b Toronto, Feb 28, 1929).

American architect, exhibition designer, furniture and jewlery designer, and teacher. He qualified at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1954 and attended the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, in 1956–7. After working in various architectural practices, from 1962 he practised independently in Venice, Los Angeles establishing the firm of Frank O. Gehry and Associates, Inc of which he remains the Design Principal. His early work focused on the potential of small-scale works to provide a succinct metaphorical statement, as with various exhibition designs for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and his designs for the Joseph Magnin Stores at Costa Mesa and San Jose (both 1968), CA. In his early works he was interested more in the manipulation of architectural form than in technical innovation, and he was concerned with the conceptual and spatial content of buildings rather than the tighter demands of the architectural brief. Seeking an ‘open-ended’ approach to architecture, he was influenced by the work of fine artists such as Constantin Brancusi and Robert Rauschenberg. But his works of the late 1970s proved that his approach could provide habitable if haphazard buildings, as in the Wagner House (...