Art Deco and Bauhaus
Art Deco and Bauhaus represent opposing theories, styles, materials, and methods of design. The French-made luxury items of the 1920s and 1930s on view in this exhibition—created by designers such as Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Maurice Marinot, René Lalique, and Jean Puiforcat—exemplify Art Deco's reassertion of traditional skilled handcraft for a small, privileged clientele. These objects make formal references to earlier French styles that required high-quality materials, and to contemporary abstract painting, notably Cubism and Futurism, with fragmented, geometric forms, and patterns of zigzags, circles, lightning bolts, and pyramids. Art Deco—which took its name from the 1925 international exhibition of modern decorative and industrial arts in Paris—spread internationally through displays in museums and department stores, publications, and the work of designers like the American Donald Deskey, who visited the Paris exhibition.
During the same period, designers trained at the Bauhaus art and design school in Germany—including Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld—developed an ascetic, purist visual vocabulary based on clean, simple geometric forms with bare surfaces that they considered appropriate for standardized industrial production and efficient living. Along these lines, modern tubular steel furniture was invented by Breuer, developed by van der Rohe, and introduced in the United States by architects George Howe and William Lescaze, who designed the furniture for the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society (PSFS) building in Philadelphia.
"MR20" Armchair and Stool
, Designed 1927
Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, American (born Germany)
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