Art History Lab

From Paris to New York: Exploring The Architectural Marvels of Art Deco

Art Nouveau and

Art Deco: A Brief History of Two Prominent Art Movements

It is often said that art reflects society. In the late 19th to early 20th century, society was undergoing major changes thanks to industrialization.

Technology advanced, transportation improved, and communication became faster. These changes led to significant shifts in the way people think, live, and work.

It is no wonder that this era saw the emergence of two prominent art movements: Art Nouveau and

Art Deco. Art Nouveau (1890-1910) was a movement characterized by sinuous, organic forms inspired by nature.

It was a rebellion against the rigid, formal styles of the past and advocated for a natural, more fluid approach. Paris was the birthplace of Art Nouveau, and its creative spirit was embodied in the works of Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage.

They made innovative use of reinforced concrete, paving the way for modern architecture. On the other hand,

Art Deco (1920s-1930s) was all about sophistication and modernization.

It reflected the ambition and optimism of society in the wake of the post-World War I era and the rise of the Jazz Age.

Art Deco celebrated mass-production, high-impact beauty, and geometric forms.

Art Deco

Art Deco was born out of a need to advance, to portray a new, more modern image of society. It advocated for a more banal, mass-produced approach to art.


Art Deco architecture was characterized by clean lines, simple shapes, and streamlined forms. It borrowed from the past (such as classical Greek and Roman architecture) but updated it with new materials and innovative design.

The intricate designs and ornate patterns of the Art Nouveau era were replaced with bold, striking shapes and rich hues.

Art Deco was all about modernization and advancement, about looking forward rather than backward.

It celebrated technology and innovation, which can be seen in the designs of machines and vehicles of the era, such as trains, planes, and automobiles.

Art Deco During Historical Highs and Lows

Art Deco flourished during times of highs and lows. During prohibition in the United States,

Art Deco was popular among the wealthy, who used its rich symbolism and luxurious materials to flaunt their wealth.

During the Great Depression, however,

Art Deco became more accessible to the middle class, especially in the design of household items such as radios, toasters, and lamps. At its core,

Art Deco was always about creating a sense of modernity and glamour, regardless of the circumstances.

Art Deco also appealed to people’s nostalgia for the past. The era was marked by intense emotions, and

Art Deco sought to capture that in its designs.

It used rich, vibrant colors, bold geometric shapes, and ornate patterns to create a sense of romanticism and nostalgia. The design of

Art Deco jewelry and furniture embodies this characteristic.

Art Nouveau Architecture

Art Nouveau architecture was born out of a need to move away from the formal, traditional styles of the past and embrace the organic, flowing shapes of nature. Reinforced concrete was a groundbreaking material at the time, and architects such as Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage used it to construct new, modern buildings that embodied the spirit of the age.

Art Nouveau architecture was characterized by intricate patterns, curving lines, and a sense of movement. The famous Parisian building, the Htel Tassel, designed by Victor Horta in the 1890s, is a perfect example of this style.

It featured curving ironwork, sinuous staircase railings, and stained glass windows that mimicked the fluidity of trees and leaves.

Art Deco Architecture

Art Deco architecture, on the other hand, was all about modernization and progress. It celebrated technological advancements and was often used in public buildings such as office spaces, government facilities, theaters, and railway stations.

The Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, and ocean liner SS Normandie are all examples of

Art Deco’s influence in engineering projects. In Europe,

Art Deco architecture was characterized by clean, straight lines and simplified shapes.

In contrast, in the United States and Latin America, there was a trend towards more ornate, decorative designs. In Mexico City, for example, the Palace of Fine Arts features intricate designs and lavish decorations that embody the glamour and luxury of the era.

In Tokyo, the National Diet Building is an excellent example of the cosmopolitan design of

Art Deco.


In conclusion, Art Nouveau and

Art Deco are two prominent art movements that reflect the impact of technological advancements on society. Art Nouveau celebrated the organic, flowing forms of nature, while

Art Deco embodied the optimism and ambition of society looking towards the future.

Today, these styles still influence modern design and architecture in different ways, but the essence of these movements remains the same to create something new and fresh that reflects the spirit of the age.

Art Deco: A Look into the Stunning Architectural Styles of the 20th Century

Art Deco captured the imagination and attention of designers and architects during the interwar period. It was a time of turmoil and change, and

Art Deco offered a fresh perspective on design that celebrated progress, innovation, and modern trends.

From government facilities to movie theaters, it was a movement that embraced the latest technology and championed the elegance of sleek design and geometric patterns.

Cathedrals of Commerce

The commercial revolution in America played host to the “

Cathedrals of Commerce,” one of the most significant and iconic

Art Deco interior styles. When it came to constructing office complexes, theaters, and government facilities,

Art Deco was the go-to style.

This architectural approach was characterized by bright, vibrant colors, strong geometric designs, and an abundant use of various materials, such as glass, marble, ceramics, and stainless steel. The Fisher Building in Detroit is one of the most striking examples of this style, featuring numerous sculptures and murals that depict the rise of commerce in America.

The building boasts of beautiful facades and iconic decoration designs made of terracotta, bronze, and marble.

Exteriors of Architectural Monuments

The exteriors of architectural monuments of

Art Deco were an enticing aspect of this design movement. Publicly funded buildings such as the Guardian Building in Michigan exemplify grandeur with their ornate corten steel gargoyles and relief works.

San Franciscos Medical and Dental Building was innovative in its application of materials in 1928, being one of the first buildings in the region to use aluminum as a building material. For the Paris Colonial Exposition in 1931, archaeologists and architects collaborated to design structures inspired by Mayan architecture, such as the Palais de la Porte Dore.

The building was an impressive landmark of the exposition and is a marvelous example of the blend of European and foreign architecture.

Movie Palaces

The 1920s saw the emergence of movie palaces across the world. Innovations in films, such as the transition from silent films to sound, presented an opportunity to create spectacular architectural designs that complement the movie-watching experience.

Art Deco architecture dominated this era, with theaters such as the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and the Fox Theater in Detroit. These theaters are characterized by impeccable attention to detail in their building materials, particularly aluminum, glass, chrome, leather, and other modern materials.

The highly exotic themes of their designs and paintings are reflective of the pop culture of the times.

Conversion of Movie Theaters

Post-WWII, movie palaces began to lose their glamour as the world underwent a significant transformation with significant investments poured into the development of multiplexes and community cultural centers. Many of these movie palaces were abandoned and forgotten, but the

Art Deco designs of these buildings were so iconic and unique that many were restored and given a new lease on life.

Movie theaters such as the Gaumont-Palace and the Grand Rex in Paris and London’s Gaumont State Cinema, underwent restoration in the latter half of the 20th century and were converted into community cultural centers. Shanghai’s Paramount Theater was also turned into a functional entertainment, arts, and cultural center reflecting regional and historical nuances.

In conclusion,

Art Deco is a remarkable architectural movement that has left its impression on monuments across the world. Its design principles are timeless and admired even today.

Art Deco was a celebration of progress, elegance, and innovation and remains a symbol of the transition of modernity and architecture in the 20th century.

Art Deco: A Celebration of Modernity and Innovation in Design

Streamline Moderne

Streamline Moderne is a branch of

Art Deco that emerged in the late 1930s. It was characterized by rounded edges, long flat lines, and nautical characteristics.

The style revolves around the notion that all things should appear to be at top speed even when standing still. Berlin’s Mossehaus and the Hoover Building in London were among the most famous examples of buildings designed in

Streamline Moderne style.

The Mossehaus, with sleek lines and a ship-like aesthetic, was aimed at the advertising and publishing industry, promising that “the future was arriving.” The Hoover Building, with its futuristic shapes and curved edges, was designed with function in mind, reflecting the modern innovations of the period.

Art Deco in Public Spaces

Art Deco extends beyond just buildings and interiors, being widely popular in filling stations, bus terminals, airports, restaurants, and diners, and seats of government. The style harks back to the noble urbanism, putting emphasis on the location and the ease that it provides for the user.

These structures blend ornamental beauty and functional elegance, providing an interesting and visually appealing design for public eye. New England communities are filled with

Art Deco architectural pieces, such as theaters, banks, and more, where the highly stylized geometric patterns of

Art Deco work harmoniously with the small town atmosphere from their brick facades to high-rise architecture in cities.

Art Deco Interior Decoration

Art Deco style was not just limited to building and architectural design, and it found its distinct place in Interior Decoration. In the 1920s and 1930s, Andre Vera and Paul Iribe introduced the Fauves aesthetic movement, a new, bold, and vividly colored ornamental style.

Moreover, incorporating the Ballets Russes movement as well, design forms became more organic with geometric patterns, stylized floral elements, and an often-gold ornamentation layer.

Art Deco furniture made use of bold, innovative materials such as chrome-plated steel, aluminum, as well as marbled patterns and bold lines. These elegant materials were exquisitely crafted into individual pieces, and they still remain relevant today due to their timeless sophistication.

Murals in Public Works Projects

In addition to ornamentation and architectural design,

Art Deco also found use in art as murals in public works projects. The WPA murals depict classical heroes and everyday people, from factory employees to postal workers, farmers, and families.

These depictions aimed to celebrate the working-class, and they are an excellent portrayal of the artistic principles of

Art Deco that was not only functional but accessible to all people. During the Great Depression, the murals revealed a sense of patriotism and self-determination.

The public responded positively to these murals, appreciating their incredible artistic value and the social messages they conveyed. In conclusion,

Art Deco remained integral to the development of modern architecture and design.

As a movement, it embraced progress, championed modernity, incorporated technology, and drew inspiration from a broad spectrum of cultural and artistic influences. From the clean and streamlined designs of

Streamline Moderne to the ornate and intricate patterns of Art Nouveau furniture,

Art Deco remains a testament to the heights that can be achieved when style meets innovation in design.

Art Deco: Exploring Iconic Buildings Around the World


Art Deco Buildings

Art Deco left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape around the world. Many iconic buildings stand as a testament to the style’s enduring allure.

The National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels, Belgium, is a prime example of

Art Deco architecture in a religious setting. This grand basilica boasts a striking combination of traditional architectural elements and

Art Deco stylings.

The intricate details and organic forms found in the design of this religious structure elevate it to a work of art. Marrakech’s Majorelle Garden is an enchanting blend of

Art Deco design and Moroccan aesthetics.

It was the brainchild of French painter Jacques Majorelle and later restored by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The vibrant blue walls, geometric patterns, and architectural features make this garden a visual delight.

The Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles, USA, is a striking example of

Art Deco design in commercial architecture. Standing tall at 13 stories, the building showcases the quintessential

Art Deco elements of bold geometric shapes, decorative detailing, and a vibrant color palette.

It has become an iconic landmark in the city. The Paramount Theater in Oakland, USA, is another

Art Deco gem that has stood the test of time.

With its impressive marquee, decorative faade, and stunning interior, the theater embodies the grandeur and glamour of the

Art Deco era. It remains one of the most notable movie palaces in California.

Fair Park in Dallas, USA, is a sprawling complex that showcases the

Art Deco style throughout its architecture. With notable structures like the Hall of State, the Esplanade, and the Cotton Bowl Stadium, Fair Park is a living testament to the grandeur and beauty of

Art Deco design.

It is a hub of cultural and historical significance. Lastly, Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA, is a world-renowned

Art Deco masterpiece.

This vast complex of 19 commercial buildings is home to some of the most recognizable

Art Deco landmarks, including the iconic Radio City Music Hall, the GE Building, and the Rockefeller Plaza. The mix of sleek design, ornate details, and beautiful murals make this a must-visit destination for lovers of

Art Deco architecture.

Art Deco Around the World

Art Deco’s influence is evident in cities around the world. From Brussels to Marrakech, Los Angeles to Oakland, Dallas to New York City,

Art Deco has left its mark on the architectural landscape.

Brussels, Belgium, is home to many stunning

Art Deco buildings. Alongside the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the city boasts magnificent structures such as the Centre for Fine Arts and the Solvay Library.

These buildings demonstrate the fusion of traditional Belgian architecture with the unique stylings of the

Art Deco movement. Marrakech, Morocco, showcases the rich cultural heritage and the influence of

Art Deco in North Africa.

The Majorelle Garden, designed by Jacques Majorelle, encapsulates the marriage of

Art Deco motifs with Moroccan architectural elements. The city also features exquisite

Art Deco hotels, including the iconic La Mamounia, which has been a beloved destination for celebrities and travelers alike.

Los Angeles, USA, is a treasure trove of

Art Deco architecture. The city’s distinctive skyline features notable

Art Deco structures such as the Eastern Columbia Building, the Wiltern Theatre, and the Oviatt Building.

These buildings embody the glamour and optimism of the era while reflecting the city’s unique character. Oakland, USA, is home to the Paramount Theater, an architectural gem that showcases the beauty of

Art Deco design.

The theater’s extravagant exterior and lavish interior, adorned with decorative motifs, make it a prime example of the era’s grand entertainment venues. Dallas, USA, boasts Fair Park, a sprawling complex that captures the essence of

Art Deco design.

With its magnificent structures, such as the Hall of State and the Esplanade, Fair Park immerses visitors in the opulence and grandeur of the 1930s. New York City, USA, is synonymous with impressive architecture, and

Art Deco is no exception.

From the iconic Rockefeller Center to the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, the city’s skyline is graced by these masterpieces of

Art Deco design. These structures have become enduring symbols of the city that never sleeps.

In conclusion,

Art Deco’s influence can be seen in famous buildings around the world. From the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels to the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, from the Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles to the Paramount Theater in Oakland, from Fair Park in Dallas to the iconic structures of Rockefeller Center in New York City,

Art Deco has left an indelible mark on the architectural landscape.

These buildings stand as a testament to the enduring allure and beauty of this influential design movement. In conclusion,

Art Deco is a significant design movement that has left an everlasting impression on the architectural landscape worldwide.

From the iconic National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels to the mesmerizing Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, the striking structures like the Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles and the magnificent Fair Park in Dallas, and the timeless landmarks of Rockefeller Center in New York City,

Art Deco showcases the fusion of elegance, innovation, and cultural significance. Its diverse range of styles and influences continues to inspire and captivate audiences today.

Art Deco reminds us of the power of design to shape our world, leaving us with a lasting appreciation for the beauty, sophistication, and forward-thinking nature of this remarkable movement.

Popular Posts