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Decorative Arts for Decorative Arts’ Sake: The Birth of Art Deco now on display


The Jenkins Architecture and Art Library in the Hines College of Architecture invites you to stop by for a look at our new Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Book Room display. Two volumes from the collection – French portfolios of heliogravure (photogravure) printed plates – provide an intriguing snapshot of a pivotal point in design history.

From 1923, La Ferronnerie Moderne, by Gabriel Henriot, documents the fanciful, exquisite metalwork of the late Art Nouveau style.  La Sculpture Décorative à l’Exposition des Arts Décoratifs de 1925, by Henri Rapin, features the work of designers exhibited in the titular event. With its focus squarely on the decorative arts and its singular preoccupation with pure decoration, the 1925 exposition boldly explored and employed myriad, unrelated impulses and inspirations. The juxtaposition of these two, rare volumes tantalizingly suggests the ultimate transition of late Nouveau to a burgeoning new and fresh “modern” style, a style borne of l’Exposition des Arts Décoratifs de 1925 – Art Deco.

The library’s display, assembled by Evening Supervisor Chris Conway, is further enhanced by the inclusion of text from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s website and by reproductions of postcards from l’Exposition des Arts Décoratifs de 1925.

Come have a look; when did you last have the opportunity to admire some rare, French, heliogravure (photogravure) printed plates?

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