For more than two years, we all but ignored an event of tremendous significance. It's time to mend our ways.
A quote from The Art Deco Exposition by Arthur Chandler: "The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was supposed to bring together the nations of the world and to show, if not quite a unified front, at least some sense of a developing common aesthetic among the practitioners of decorative art and architecture. "
Judging by the writings of numerous art critics, the Exposition failed to achieve this goal. One of its participants, Le Corbusier, wrote there was nothing to see save the Soviet pavilion designed by Konstantin Melnikov. He didn't mention his own design, the Esprit Nouveau pavilion. By the way, it was Corbusier who coined the term 'Art Deco'. He used it to make laugh of his colleagues, accusing them of various sins, first and foremost of their obsession for decor and ornamentation. Decades later, the term will be revived to embrace various Interbellum styles, from Neo-Gothic to Streamline Moderne.
But was there really nothing to see? Especially in the light of the fact that a number of important players choose (or were forced) to abstain. Another quote from Chandler's essay (absolutely recommended to everyone who's interested in the genesis of Art Deco): "...many nations chose not to participate. The United States, Canada, Mexico, all of Central and South America, were absent. Germany, of course, was not invited. For many nations, the prospect of devoting so much effort and expense in the wake of a world war must have seemed frivolous. But for those nations that did choose to participate, the exposition could be viewed as an attempt to find some common ground of unity after the tragic and divisive war. "
Some foreign participants:
Czechoslovak pavilion (architect: J. Gočár, a leading Czech functionalist; here is a more interesting view of the building)
Austrian pavilion, designed by Joseph Hoffman, a pillar of Secession (not that simple - just look here)
Finally - Eiffel tower, illuminated: