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Art Deco Graphics (Anglais) Broché – 14 septembre 2005
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Good as the book is though I was rather disappointed with the presentation. All of the spreads with several pictures have them deliberately unaligned and where there are only two images to a page they are usually the same size with a lot of white space and I mean a LOT. I think one of the images should have been big and the other smaller, thus reducing all the white space to a minimum. Typography on the mauve text pages is a mess, various sizes are used and the caption size is really too small. The left-hand page numbers are on the inside of the page next to the books spine, this seems a silly bit of designer whimsy.
The book is very comprehensive and rightly shows how the creative output of mostly European artists was used commercially. For an American perspective have a look at this beautifully designed paperback: Streamline: American Art Deco. This has excellent illustrations showing how the style was adapted (those famous three speed lines) by American creative folk to sell products rather than a European fine art genre.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
The drifting directionlessness of France in the 1920s when film and poetry were all but the same thing, a nostalgia for what always is because it never was. It was time for something new.
New . . . and yet . . . more: Modern. Diverting. Striking, startling, disharmonious, direct. Everyone saw the need: Art of street to challenge art of salon. A merger between middle-class decorative taste and the revolutionary's love of the outré, the young artist's love of the avant-garde, the liberated career woman's preoccupation with the suave and the elegantly insolent. By the time the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes opened in Paris, the masters of modern art-Picasso, Braque, to skim for the moment the mythic cream, Klimt, Léger, Kandinsky, Magritte, Modigliani, Duchamp, Ernst, and Toulouse-Lautrec-had already transformed the fine arts. There seemed no new territory to explore.
Then the newbies discovered graphic arts.
There was no "Art Deco" then. Indeed, that appellation was not used until 1966. But artisans embracing a handful of ideas loosely bundled as "Style moderne" borrowed bits from Cubism, Russian Constructivism, Italian Futurism, the Vienna Secession, Bauhaus, then added techniques of their own: abstraction, distortion, oversimplification, geometric solidities reinforced with intense colors. They used these to celebrate the rise of commerce, technology, and (thanks to the auto and airplane) speed. The ensuing volcano spewed simultaneous views from several directions: hypercontrasts of color and arrangement, transformations of reality, personality, eccentricity.
These inspired a new kind of fine artist, the illustrator. Names like Cassandre, Jean Carlu, Herbert Bayer, and McKnight-Kauffer began to turn up not merely on posters, but magazine covers, stationery design, advertisements. A kumquat of Orientalism was squeezed out of Diaghilev's sensational Ballets Russes. American jazz, native American and African art, Egyptian glyphs, these too. And above all the discovery of personal power in the power of machines. All these contributed to an aesthetic confluence from which has flown the sociological art theme of our times: graphics, commerce, private purpose, public event, and social attitude are all immersed in one. Art Deco Graphics is like looking at the wedding pictures of one's grandparents.
Almost all these images are standouts, but a few are unsettling, and breathtakingly so. On page 89 is an ad for Herkules Bier "aus dem Hasenbrau-Augsburg." The sinister, leviathanic, muscle-bound, fist-clenched figure uses one of the hallmarks of Art Deco-deep shadow to enhance contrast-to convey a message as self-contradictory as it is threatening: Drink this and it won't go to your belly, it will build the muscle of Germany. Rage is power,too.
That was 1925. Five years earlier Ludwig Hohlwein design an ad "Tachometerwerke" for a Düsseldorf maker of the eponymous instruments to clock engine revs. The vehicle, with its riveted sheet metal body and upjutting phallic levers for gears and brakes, all done in a dark drab befitting military maneuvers in the slime, is not a Gay Paree streamlined beauty with chauffeur and mink-trimmed consort. It is a tank. The vehicle alone says, "We're coming, out of the way." But it is the driver who truly frightens. Garbed in the thick leathers of automobiling at the time, gloved hands gripping-no, choking-the wheel, his face is of such grim, hating, enraged determination that one cannot think of similar malevolency in all of art history except perhaps for Meiji-era Japanese prints extolling the glories of battle. Even in 1920 the omens were shrieking, and by 1925 they were building muscle.
Yet for the most part Art Deco was sweetness and elegance, if not light, and a kind of innocence during the days when modern commercialism was being established. One can see editors exploiting inner fears on behalf of ad sales even then: the Vogue and Vanity Fair covers depict improbably slender women draped in the silks and furs of unattainable wealth, their eyes of steel willing and able to stare down an amorous tycoon (page 143). Book publishers were right alongside them: A book cover by a designer pseudonymed "Fish" (in reality the British caracaturist Ann Sefton) proclaimed, "High Society-Hints on how to Attain, Relish - and Survive It; A Pictorial Guide to Life in Our Upper Circles." Powerful "Fortune" covers (whose ultra-simplicity and unusual view angles could inspire cinema students even today). They also were the days when "Fortune" had taste: A 1941 cover was graced with a Fernand Léger graphic.