Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

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.

Here is the pavilion of USSR, a structure which made its architect famous.

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. "

I'll just show you some pictures, each one worth more than a thousand words. Make your own judgement. French pavilions:

Pomone Pavilion for Bon Marche (architect: Louis Hippolyte Boileau)

La Maitrise Pavilion (architects: Joseph Hiriart, Georges Tribout and Georges Beau)

Grand Palais. Salle d'Honneur, staircase (architect: Charles Letrosne)

One more shot of the Salle d'Honneur

Galerie des boutiques (architect: H. Sauvage)

Ruhlmann pavilion

Pavillon d'Est

Pavilion of the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres

Porte de la Concorde (architect: P. Patout)

Ceiling lamp in wrought iron with silver patina and electric light fitting in wrought iron (designer: Edgar Brandt)

Tympanum in the Ambassade Française by Raymond Delamarre

Metal door furniture by Rene Prou

Some foreign participants:

Belgian pavilion (architect: no other than Victor Horta, the pillar of Art Nouveau)

Italian pavilion (architect: Armando Brasini; we know him as the author of 1930s Mole Littoria project and soon will hear more about him)

British Government Pavilion (architects: Easton & Robertson)

British textile section with decorative frieze by R. Anning Bell

Czechoslovak pavilion (architect: J. Gočár, a leading Czech functionalist; here is a more interesting view of the building)

Pavilion of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory (architect: Helmeg-Møller)

Austrian pavilion, designed by Joseph Hoffman, a pillar of Secession (not that simple - just look here)

Dutch pavilion interior (architect / designer: H. Th. Wijdeveld)

Polish pavilion (architect: Joseph Czajkowski)

Sgraffito decoration in Polish Pavilion by Adalbert Jastrzebowski

Finally - Eiffel tower, illuminated:

And an award to those who scrolled this 'nothing-to-see' page to the bottom:

Exposition medal, designed by Pierre Turin

You're welcome to browse through Flickr galleries I've made: One, Two, and visit photostreams of RUAMPS ©, Punkmemory and alanp_photo for more images.

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Comment by Larry on July 12, 2011 at 11:00pm
I find it interesting how Art Deco architecture seems to be BIG.
Comment by Dieter Marquardt on July 12, 2011 at 6:05am
Fantastic. This exhibition is really marking the cross-road between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. It must have been amazing to wander around and see the best of all worlds.

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