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Art Deco Design: Rhythm and Verve


September 12th, 2008 - May 22nd, 2009

What is the reason for the enduring appeal of Art Deco design? The answer lies in the vitality of the decorative style's visual elements. Art Deco captured the mood of 1920s and 1930s modernism, an age of jazz and streamlined machinery, with designs that are colorful, geometric, and filled with an intense rhythm. This exhibition seeks to give viewers a more intimate exposure to the style's incredible energy by focusing on boldly graphic plate books, portfolios, and masterworks of the pochoir stencil print technique from the Library's Art & Architecture Collection. Art Deco's international flavor has played particularly well in New York, with many examples of landmark architecture and interiors throughout the city. The exhibition offers a reappraisal of the style's most notable features and its often-overlooked legacy to modern art. Starting with key Art Nouveau designs that reveal the origins of the Art Deco impulse, the exhibition presents developing traits that move through the 1920s and into the next decade. Aspects of the style's legacy can be seen in the first volume of the significant art journal Verve(1937-60), a review of art and literature that took root from the fertile soil of mature Art Deco, and in the innovative works of Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), an avant-garde painter and designer, whose brightly colored and geometrically-shaped creations demonstrate the union of fine art and commercial design aesthetics.