Friday, June 26, 2009

Art Deco abuse

I'm continually struck by how many people (mis)use the term "Art Deco" to refer to any building built between, say, 1920 and 1959. This must be the most overused and misunderstood term in all of architectural design.

Some examples from recent browsing:

"The Brynmoor is a newly renovated Art Deco building . . . "
The Brynmoor (1928) is in the Tudor Revival style, aka Jacobethan, and is quite handsome, thank you.


"Beautiful Art Deco single."
Italian Renaissance Revival. Eat your heart out, Lorenzo de' Medici.


"Original Art Deco lighting fixtures."
Standard ornate 1920s fixtures, right down to the faux-drippy candles . . . but check out that spacious formal dining room!


"Art Deco sensibility."
A 1929 apartment building on Beverly Boulevard, gutted to make "lofts" (note the missing ceiling). The original building was no more Art Deco than this unfortunate reconfiguration.

BTW, I'm hardly defending American Art Deco or its purer and more authentic French counterpart, Art Déco, both of which I've always found to be cold, mechanical, and reductive. But to slap this term on just about any building as a means of increasing its supposed appeal is a pathetic real estate ploy.


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