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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Art Deco: Vibrant, Eclectic, and Dynamic

Full Day Lecture/Seminar

Saturday, April 24, 2021 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2126
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Corner cabinet designed by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, ca. 1923 (Brooklyn Museum)

With the advent of the Jazz Age, the art world searched for modern forms and decorative motifs to reflect this exciting new era.  They were found in bold geometric shapes such as chevrons, lozenges, zigzags, and sunbursts and in contemporary technology and materials. Drawing on a variety of historical sources, including ancient Egypt, the classical world, and Asian art, art deco soon reflected modern living, the machine age, and the skyscraper.

Art historian Bonita Billman discusses this vibrant movement that used all major media, including glass, ceramics, metal, wood, textiles, paper, marble, and paint.  Through illustrated lectures she highlights examples of art deco in architecture, furniture, interiors, fashions, advertisements, and films.

9:30–10:45 a.m. Art Deco’s Origins

The 1925 International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris showcased the work of such giants as Lalique and Ruhlmann and gave the world its first comprehensive look at art deco.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Le Jazz Hot: French Art Deco

Jewelry and glass designs of Rene Lalique; the exquisite furniture and interiors of Emile-Jacque Ruhlmann; the fashions of Poiret and Vionnet; the metalwork of Edgar Brandt; Cassandre’s posters; and more.

12:15–1:15 p.m. Break

1:15–2:30 p.m. Art Deco in England and the Empire

The British Empire embraced the motifs and deco style that are seen in its cinemas, factories, hotels, and streetscapes. Hercule Poirot would feel at home.

2:45–4 p.m. American Art Deco and Streamline Moderne

The skyscraper; Rockefeller Center; the hotels of South Beach; the American movie palaces; art deco in the movies.

Billman, who is retired from the department of art and art history at Georgetown University, lectures for a variety of organizations in the mid-Atlantic region.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.