Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Paris has a love affair with Art Deco, well... since Art Deco exists. No wonder: it's not to brag it, but although the word was coined later, Art Deco - Arts Décoratifs - is originally very much a French thing. While many star creators and designers of the era came from various foreign countries, it is in the welcoming, artists friendly, very cosmopolitan Paris of the 20's and 30's they studied, perfected their skills and talents and met success, making Art Deco the trademark of international moderdinity in no time.

Apart from the permanent collections featured by many museums in Paris, the City is used to celebrate Art Deco on a regular basis. This winter season is no exception with an exceptional exhibition, "When Art Deco Dazzled The World," brillantly illustrating this worldwide back and forth process of artistic influences through an amazing revival of the Arts Décoratifs Exhibition Fair of 1925 which, although it wasn't the most important of these decades, definitely proved to be the most influential one on the long run.

The location of the exhibition, this time again, couldn't be more Dieselpunk style, since it is set in the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine (City of Architecture and Heritage)  which is part of what is without any doubt the most Dieselpunk place in Paris, the colossal, imposing Palais de Chaillot built for the 1937 Fair.

Let me say it right away: the exhibition is just... dazzling and even the most Art Deco knowledgeable Dieselpunk has not enough eyes to embrace everything and not enough words to praise all the wonders featured in it. There is not a piece of furniture, not a single object, drawing or poster that is not only of absolute premium quality, but also highly representative of the richness, creativity and diversity of the Art Deco style at its very best.

Although children are not forgotten with a nice entire section devoted to the budding "youth culture" of these days, it's not about charming rusted toys and nostalgic pressure cookers this time. The exhibition internationally covers a wide range of the prominent fields where Art Deco was influential then and it is truly a challenge to pick up a few of the highlights in it. Let's give it a try though, with this Bugatti welcoming visitors at the entrance under a huge "Vine and wine" themed tapestry by Jean Dupat

...or the reconstruction of previously mentionned painter Tamara de Lempicka's workshop and apartment, featuring a film where Tamara plays her own role, givng the watcher the puzzling illusion he is sharing her intimacy

... or maybe this purely decorative lit cristal panel by Lalique, behind which a sketch for the so famous Ruhlman's piece of furniture can be seen. Thank to a loan from the Mobilier National (National Furniture Museum), some of the finest, rarely seen pieces by Ruhlman, nicknamed "The Pope of Art Deco", are actually featured as well.

Along with interior decoration, both public, industrial, commercial and private architecture is internationally represented through countless models, drawings and photos, like this stunning power transformer substation. Yes, in those days, even these things could be that artistic. Please note the figurehead picturing some power allegory:

Excellency, originality and glamour are everywhere you set your eyes on, from the smallest vase, bottle of perfume by Jeanne Lanvin or piece of china...

...to an amazing collection of the most incredible car radiator caps, some of them figuring Josephine Baker or Simone Lenglen, a champion tennis player of the time!

From the splendors of the Normandie liner or those of the private mansion of the Japan Emperor in Tokyo to the luxury of high fashion gowns, from the innovative Art Deco garden designs to the mindblowing creativity of the graphic artworks, again, it is virtually impossible to do justice to the richness and quality of this exceptional exhibition with a couple of images or a few lines and not even with this short introduction video:

So, maybe it's the right time for you to break your piggy bank and (shortly) book a cheap flight to Paris. The "When Art Deco Dazzled The World" is definitely worthy of it and the Dieselpunk at heart you are will eternally thank you for that, I can guarantee.

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Comment by Stefan on February 9, 2014 at 2:25pm

For those who want to know, the gorgeous design on the poster of the exhibition is the façade of the famous, recently renovated Folies Bergères theater in Paris:

Comment by Cap'n Tony on February 7, 2014 at 7:15pm

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this, Stefan. I love the Art Deco power station.

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