To begin with , we should say that , generally the Art Deco basically refers the movement in decorative arts. The Roaring Twenties was the period of time , when the Western culture started to evolve rapidly and concurrently in a great way during and around the 1920s. It was a period that the majority of people were pretty rich as that period of time , jobs were developing. Also a distinctive cultural edge in the United States was observed, particularly in major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and in New York City. The unique art movement of this period attracted the imagination of nations all over the world. Generally the Art Deco style originated in France before the World War I. It had a great effect on architecture , but also on the interior decoration of the buildings in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. The greatest and most famous examples were the skyscrapers of New York, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
The most well-known Mesoamerican impact in Art Deco architecture, decorative arts and design is the ziggurat, or ventured pyramid form. We can see this when contrasting the Mayan Ziggurat with the highest point of the Paramount Building.
The greatest Mesoamerican influence in Art Deco architecture, decorative arts and design is the ziggurat, or the stepped pyramid style. This can seen when comparing the Mayan Ziggurat to the top of the Paramount Building. It is also known that decorative embellishments emulate Mesoamerican sculptural alleviation as we observe when we compare the Aztec relief to the relief of the GE Building.
The Art Deco style also appeared in the graphic arts, as soon as it started expanding. Firstly , appeared in Paris in the posters and some costume designs , such as Leon’s Bakst and Ballets’ Russes. The illustrations of Georges Barbier, and Georges Lepape and the images in one of the most famous fashion magazines , the ‘La Gazette du bon ton’ ,adopted the elegance and sensuality of the style. In the 1920s, the look changed, as the fashions stressed were more casual, sportive and brave, with the lady models often smoking cigarettes. American magazines referring to fashion, like air and Harper’s Bazaar immediately adopted the new style and propelled it in the United States. It also affected the work of American book illustrators such as Rockwell Kent. In addition , Japanese woodblock prints, had become a major source of influence for the Western artists, especially in Europe. The subsequent influx of art from Japan , had a great impact to Europe. Concretely, artists found in the formal simplicity of woodblock prints a model , from which they could create their own modern styles , such as Impressionist.
The Art Deco period was also the starting point of time , when the tourism and travel started increasing rapidly.(e.g. automobiles , airplanes and trains) Also in the new style , hotels of all types of categories were built , but most luxury ones were observed to adopt this new style of architecture and decoration , for example the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, that was built in 1929 and was the tallest and largest hotel in the world when it was built.
Streamline Moderne was an assortment of Art Deco which developed amid the mid-1930s. The architectural style was simpler and less embellishing than prior Art Deco structures, more tuned with the Great Depression. Structures in the style frequently looked like land bound boats, with rounded corners, long flat lines, iron railings, and at times nautical characteristics. The San Francisco Maritime Museum (1936) , which was a public bath house , was a good example as also the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. Modern aerodynamics affected the style and decoration. The shape of cars , trains and ships had the shape of a bullet.
Furthermore , the Art Deco style was used for the decoration of the interior and exterior of the skyscrapers , as zigzag and geometric shapes were observed. Also another great landmark of the Art Deco style was the RCA Victor Building that was constructed by John Walter Cross. From top to its bottom , it was covered with many geometric shapes and some zigzag patterns as well. The Art Deco style of skyscrapers was usually used for corporate office buildings but in the course of time it was also used for some government buildings. For example , the city halls of California , New York and Buffalo were built in this style. Finally , the distinguishing features of the style are simple , clean shape , often with a streamline look.
First of all , a very important fact is that, the Art Deco style originated in France and specifically in Paris , where not very high buildings were observed. This fact was the reason that the United States soon started building tall and impressive buildings. ‘The first skyscrapers were built in Chicago in the 1880s in the neoclassical style. The new Art Deco was also used to build other great buildings in New York in the 1920s , the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The Empire State building was the tallest building in the world for approximately forty years.’
If we try to compare the geometric shapes of the tribal African ceremonial textile to the base of the McGraw Hill Building, we notice many similarities. The windows, doors and decorative features of this building look very similar to the basic geometric forms of the textile. We can also observe that the Art Deco style borrows the formal qualities of the African tribal furniture , when we the ‘Ashanti Ghana Stoo’l to the stool of ‘Pierre Legrain’.