Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Exceptional French Art Deco Press

Of course August means holiday posts for any blogger! And guess what a documentalist does during this long awaited period? I bet you already know the answer, they become a library rat. It is only when they have a number of free successive weeks that they can produce real exhaustive investigations and read carefully through a complete collection of specialized magazines.

When I decided to focus on western carpet design, I began the work with the French Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. You might think that it was an easy task, but to understand the length of time it took me to review the decorative press, just read the following list.

Cover from Les Echos d'Art, no 30, January 1928, featuring a carpet by Yvonne Fourgeaud, produced by A La Place Clichy. The Carpet Index

List of the French magazines covering the decorative field for the 1920s and 1930s:

ABC Magazine d'Art
L'Amour de l'Art
Art & Artistes
Art & Decoration
Art & Industrie
L'Art Vivant
La Gazette des Beaux Arts
Decor d'Aujourd'hui
Les Echos des Industries d'Art
Mobilier et Decoration
La Renaissance de l'Art Francais et des Industries

Of course, this inventory does not include any special decorative folders such as the ones from La Demeure, L'Art d'Aujourd'hui or Ce Temps Ci.

Why is all this important? It shows that even though France had not initiated the movement towards Modernism in the decorative arts, it did succeed in creating a real community and market after the First World War, when other countries were still trying to convince the general public and manufacturers to embrace the cause of Modernism. At that moment in time, Paris was the leading centre for creativity, and rug design just followed that movement. Due to its population, colonial empire and industry, France was in the unique position of supplying modernist goods to all levels of society, to suit all budgets, anywhere in the world. For people like myself, we consider this period to be a real Golden Age.

The magazine shown in the illustration, Les Echos des Industries d'Art, is the rarest of all. It is almost impossible to find the complete collection in any Parisian library. Generally the January issue contained the yearly article for carpets and tapestries. Owning even a few of these magazines, I consider myself to be a lucky man indeed. Even though it was printed in black and white, the quality of the publishing, long before any Adobe suite was available, is fantastic.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

No comments: