Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

It wouldn't be fair, I guess to end this very brief review of what Paris has to offer in the regard of Art Deco museums and exhibitions without mentioning the Musée... des Arts Décoratifs. Even though the location of this major national museum isn't exactly Dieselpunk style - it is set in the western wing of the Louvre Museum - the place provides a gorgeous frame to its extensive collections in the very heart of Paris downtown, literally one block away from the room where tourists queue to take photos of the Mona Lisa.

Although the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, like its name doesn't say, is not solely devoted to the Interbellum decades, the Art Deco section is prominent and presents a vast range of the finest pieces of furniture and decorative objects of the time. The main focus of the museum is to showcase the French savoir-faire through a selection of the most spectacular pieces, like this stunning desk designed by the architect Michel Roux-Spitz in the same way he would have designed a building and... with almost the same proportions:

... or this jewel "screen-clock" by Cartier made of a XVIIIe century sculpted block of jade, coral, golden bronze and nothing less than diamonds:

... or maybe this sharkskin, ivory and mahogany Chiffonnier Organique (Organic Drawer) by André Groult:

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs has a clearly stated educational vocation and without ever being boring, each visit gives you the nice feeling you've learned something. In that regard, the Art Deco section cleverly brings into the light various subtle nuances of that so rich period, like the transition between Art Nouveau and Art Deco illustrated, among other wonders, by a complete reconstruction up to the least object of the private apartment of fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin:

... or the influence of industry and the newest technology upon the Arts Décoratifs, evidenced by this glass panel by Jacques Grüber:... as well as the strong African influence upon Art Deco style:

The place must also be praised for something which is, to my best knowledge, unique: a section devoted to that somehow French specificity, the 1940 style, aka Late Art Deco. Very far away from the clear, neat lines of the Le Corbusier-style liner look or the strict geometry of the Bauhaus, the 1940 style is baroque, extravagant, dreamlike, borrows to mythology and likes pastiche, surrealism and theatricality. Think of La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) by Jean Cocteau. Think de Chirico or Bérard. Or this gigantic decorative glass panel for a theater:

Sadly the poetic 1940 style didn't survive the immoderate taste of the following decades for the clinical cleanliness of the interiors and more importantly, its disapearance was to sound the death knell of decorative arts. Courtesy of The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, here is a short video about this specific 40's section: http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/francais/arts-decoratifs/collection...

Other museums should be mentionned as well, like the Museum of Modern Art where the Art Deco collections are available for free, for example. Most of all, one nice thing about Paris is that Art Deco - and thus the Dieselpunk spirit - is everywhere, from numerous restaurants and brasseries which maintained their original decoration to countless façades of buildings, should it be hotels particuliers or social housing. Paris also offers two flea markets where a couple of euros still can get you some small wonder from the Roaring Twenties, if you are lucky.

I don't doubt other places are fine for a Dieselpunk to live in, but Paris is certainly on top list, in my opinion. At least, a visit is a must in the life of any Dieselpunk!

 

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