The 1920s art movement known as Art Deco is all the rage right now, with the movie version of The Great Gatsby topping the box office and major fashion designers reviving Art Deco style into their current collections. On June 14th, Nashville was even a stop on the road for the Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts. In September the Frist will also present a lecture on the Art Deco revival explaining why this style is so relevant now.
Art Deco’s influence can be felt in your home, too. Taking some of the motifs and using them to paint your house will set you apart. Here are some color schemes that go along with America’s most popular trend.
When you’re going Art Deco, start with the iconic features of Art Deco: metallic colors. Some of the most defining features of Art Deco style are shiny fabric, sculptures, and buildings. Flapper girls donned sequined gowns and short dresses that spoke of rebellion and freedom. Silvery steel was extremely popular and featured in 1920s’ hallmark buildings, like the Chrysler Building in New York City or the Express Building in Manchester, England.
When it comes to your home, a modest silvery trim around the ceiling will make a statement to all your visitors and fit well with the current, twenty-first century Art Deco revival. Similarly, bronze sculptures were in vogue. The “Rtym” (“Rhythm”) statue of Henryk Kunaw in Warsaw is a classic example. The bronze-work done by Max Le Verrier in his iconic table lamps remains influential to this day, and a muted bronze or rust shade would pair perfectly with contemporary Art Deco lamps, bookends, ashtrays, and wall brackets.
Perhaps the most recognizable Art Deco metallic color of all is gold. Art Deco was associated with the 1920s’ lavish spending, and a “Midas touch” of gold showed up seemingly everywhere. One only has to look at the golden Art Deco-styled earrings to see how the women of the era wanted to feel rich everywhere. And with Art Deco’s Classical inspirations, gold leaf was added to black to add a splash of luxury and shimmer, a style that you could imitate by matching up tiny, ornate gold onto a black background.
1920s cinema can also be a source of inspiration. A leading style of the era is visually stunning expressionist film, such as in Weimar director Fritz Lang’s classic sci-fi, Metropolis. The play of white and black, shadows and light in the German expressionist film movement created a shading technique called “chiaroscuro,” which you could adapt to fit your needs by matching bold blacks against shades of grey and white.
The artist who has made the most lasting contribution to what we think of as Art Deco fashion is the French artist Erté. Erté designed costumes and sets for the ballet and stage, including the Ziegfeld Follies. Erté’s trademark was to join bold colors like peacock blue or a shock of bright red to the background of black or grey, emphasizing the stark contrast to heighten drama.
His sets and fashion were also clearly influenced by Classical clothing, motifs, and myths. One can add a little Erté to the house by taking a loud color and pairing it side by side with a strong black.
Everyone has a preference for their habitat’s mood, and the Art Deco aesthetic touches on them all: the flash of gold, the flex of steel, the splash of flame read. No matter what your style is, there’s an Art Deco feel for you. For Gatsby, it’s the green light over the water in the distance that makes him wistfully think of Daisy, his true love. What Art Deco color have you fallen in love with? What color would you want to see on your walls to signify your passion? Share with us the Art Deco colors with which you identify the most!
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