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International Decorative Art

Art Deco, International c. 1920–c. 1940; American mid 1920s–early 1940s

The hallmarks of Art Deco are sleek, jazzy, streamlined designs that often connote speed. Typical elements are sweeping, tapering curves, contoured shapes and reinforcing outlines that suggest forward motion. Repetitive geometric patterns; stepped forms; angular, zigzag motifs; stylized nude or clothed figures—generally female—in elegant poses or graceful, dance-like positions; sleek depictions of animals such as hounds, deer and jungle or domestic cats and gazelles; frequently bright colors and usually with black or silver or gold; use of chrome or aluminum; beautiful exotic woods—all are indicative of Art Deco designs. The term derives from l’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts), a celebrated world fair held in Paris in 1925. The Art Deco Movement flourished in the 1920s and 1930s as designers moved away from the organic forms of Art Nouveau.