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Art Deco Goes Retro

Design divas rejoice! Continuing this month, the Royal Ontario Museum plays host to Art Deco 1910-1939, a wide-ranging showcase of the popular style, curated by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Covering approximately 11,000 square feet of space, the exhibit features more than 250 works by some of the most influential artists and designers of the last century, including Cartier, Coco Chanel, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Edward Steichen.

Art Deco first began to influence the decorative and fine arts of Europe in 1910, later spreading to America and beyond. Responding to the stylistic demands of the modern world, Art Deco (a term derived from the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts) altered the design of an era, from industry and fashion to cinema and photography.

The ROM—the sole Canadian venue for the show and one of only three stops in North America—presents the exhibit in chronological format: The Style and the Age provides a framework for Art Deco and illustrates its main characteristics. Sources explores the many inspirations behind Art Deco, Avant-Garde examines the impact of the Russian ballet and Cubism, and National Traditions focuses on such diverse influences as Scandinavian folk weaving and peasant pottery. The Exotic and The Moderne examines the two main visual approaches to Art Deco in Europe, while The Deco World deals with the style’s broad appeal to consumers, highlighting how the rousing age of travel and transportation helped spread the mode around the world. Streamlining represents the last phase of Art Deco, when it emerged as a symbol of speed and efficiency—in welcome contrast to the daily struggles of the Great Depression.

Art Deco 1910-1939, is presented by the Royal Ontario Museum to January 4, 2004. For more information call 416-586-8000, or go online at www.rom.on.ca

—Susan Murray

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