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The Echo Of Art Deco Can Be Heard Through Your Hearth

Sep 10, 2008
During the 1920's and 1930's, Art Deco was apparent in every faction of creativity, in film, fashion, painting, architecture and interior design right down to fireplaces and mantel pieces. It celebrated the mechanical ideologies of Modernism but unlike its parent movement, Art Deco heralded form as much, if not more than function. Now fireplaces weren't just practical water boilers and heating devices, they were a finely crafted piece of sculpture, making optimum use of materials and their inherent properties. Enter ceramics, the hallmark of Art Deco fireplaces, this was the perfect material for the tactile, streamlined mantel of the roaring 1920's and was employed by revered artists and sculptors such as Jules Leleu, Elieen Gray and Santiago Martinez Delgado. Popularly Art Deco promoted both exclusive, high art craftsmanship as well as machine made affordable production line goods that the less privileged masses could enjoy.

In Britain and the US several popular artistic styles contributed to that of Art Deco. It took the edge from the Futurists and the fragmentation of Cubism, amalgamating the flat and light themes and pillars from Neoclassicism and the minimal surfaces of the Bauhaus whilst including antique floral carvings in a neatly designated section of the mantel. The avant-garde Art Deco modernised old conventions with contemporary style, maintaining the substance and principles of tradition but jazzing them up with a fashionable finish. The elegant functionality of Art Deco lent itself very successfully to interior design because the creative movement had no philosophy other than that of decoration.

This new nationalistic ornamentation spread throughout the developed world like a global wild fire and examples of Art Deco design were springing up in every major city and in almost every household so the style soon had international effect. The urban design modernised peoples living spaces like the predecessor Art Nouveau had failed to do. Most Western cultures embraced Art Deco and found some way to interpret and identify with the values of the movement and apply them to their lifestyle. Although the trend fell out of favour in the 1940's it lived on through the long lasting architecture that sprouted from the ground in the previous two decades, and many facets of interior design still have chic Art Deco elements inherent in them.

The heart of a good home is a great hearth and Art Deco fireplaces are still exoteric in and around Britain. Such an ornate style for the all important centrepiece of a living room will have favoured longevity for decades to come.
About the Author
John McE writes articles on a number of subjects including antique fireplaces and mantels and home restoration. For more about antique fireplaces and mantels see Westland of London
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