Art Deco (), or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France just before World War I and began flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II. It took its name, short for ''Arts Décoratifs'', from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) held in Paris in 1925.
It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.
Deco emerged from the interwar period when rapid industrialisation was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favoured by its predecessor Art Nouveau.
Historian Bevis Hillier defined Art Deco as "an assertively modern style () ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material () the requirements of mass production".〔
During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress.
The first use of the term ''Art Deco'' is sometimes attributed to architect Le Corbusier, who penned a series of articles in his journal ''L'Esprit nouveau'' under the headline "1925 Expo: Arts Déco". He was referring to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts).
The term came into more general use in 1966, when a French exhibition celebrating the 1925 event was held under the title ''Les Années 25: Art Déco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau''. Here the term was used to distinguish the new styles of French decorative crafts that had emerged since the Belle Epoque.〔 The term Art Deco has since been applied to a wide variety of works produced during the Interwar period (''L'Entre Deux Guerres''), and even to those of the Bauhaus in Germany. However, Art Deco originated in France. It has been argued that the term should be applied to French works and those produced in countries directly influenced by France.
Art Deco gained currency as a broadly applied stylistic label in 1968 when historian Bevis Hillier published the first book on the subject: ''Art Deco of the 20s and 30s''.〔 Hillier noted that the term was already being used by art dealers and cites ''The Times'' (2 November 1966) and an essay named "Les Arts Déco" in ''Elle'' magazine (November 1967) as examples of prior usage. In 1971, Hillier organised an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which he details in his book about it, ''The World of Art Deco''.
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