Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Different Deco, 5 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Art Deco Masterpieces (Hardcover)
Art Deco Masterpieces is a collection of nearly sixty images of art, by about 50 artists (some with multiple entries). The pieces are almost entirely objects, so the art deco is applied rather than designed. The irony is that Ostergard criticizes art nouveau, the movement that preceded art deco, precisely for being applied rather than reimagining. This is a longstanding bogus criticism, but Ostergard goes further, demoting art nouveau to an “idiom” as punishment. Then the irony again, as the majority of the artists in the book got their training, experience and inspiration working in art nouveau. It gives the book a little conflict, which is not a bad thing.

When we think of art deco, we mostly think of straight lines, parallel lines, sharp angles and sweeping motifs. This art deco is mostly German, developing visibly out of Germany’s version of art nouveau, called jugendstil. The Wiener Werkstatte formalized it, and the USA adopted it and commercialized it.

To put it visually, art nouveau leaves would be rounded, flowing ginkos that envelop and invite. Typical art deco leaves are hard, sharp blades that are more menacing than inviting.

But Ostergard shows us an entirely different art deco, mostly French, much softer, often more primitive, muted, and understated. I would not have labeled much of the work in Art Deco Masterpieces as art deco at all, so it was a learning experience. Many of the artists were new to me, and there is little or sketchy info for some of them.

The structure of the book is a full page text profiling the artist and the object, and full page color image of the object chosen.

David Wineberg
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