Saturday, 10 October 2009

When was the Starting Point of the French Art Deco Style: The Salon d'Automne - Munich Decorative Art Exhibition of 1910 in Paris

In 1909 the closure of the Parisian Art Nouveau store, also called La Maison Bing, which was the reference store for the French Modern style, was a sign of the end of this movement which began earlier in 1895 with the opening of the store by Siegfried Bing (1838-1905), a German who arrived in France in 1854 to work for the family business. Nevertheless, some French decorators had already anticipated this evolution and had been aware of changes in style in other areas of Europe, particularly in Austria and Germany. Victor Prouve, president of the Nancy School, the major regional Art Nouveau group, had already contacted the Munich designers' association, Deutsche Werkstatten fur Handwerkskunst in 1908. He then worked to establish exchanges between the Parisian Societe des Artistes Decorateurs (S.A.D) despite the complex political relations between the two countries after the 1870 war and the subsequent French loss of Alsace Lorraine. This attitude was courageous as he was often confronted by the strong belief among politicians and professionals that French design had nothing to learn and that it was still the world leader in the decorative arts.

Drawing room by Paul Wenz, Salon d'Automne 1910, L'Art Decoratif Magazine, 2nd semester

The negotiations succeeded in organizing a joint exhibition in 1910 during the Salon d'Automne in Paris. In a separate part of the building the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs de Munich (Munch Decorative Art Exhibition) took place. It consisted of seven rooms, each being decorated by a different designer, as follows:

1) Reception room by Theodore Veil; carpet by Anton Poessenbacher Haus
2) Library by Paul Ludwig Troost; carpet by Smyrne Carpet mills
3) Dining room by Adelbert Niemeyer; carpet by Deutsche Werkstatten fur Handwerkskunst (D.W.H)
4) Collective rooms; carpet by A Niemeyer, Richard Riemerschmied for D.W.H
5) Boudoir by Otto Baur; carpet by D.W.H
6) Drawing room by Paul Wenz; carpet by D.W.H
7) Music room by Emmanuel von Seidl; two hand knotted rugs by Ms. Emmy Siegfried exhibited by Hahn & Bach

The result of the exhibition clearly shows that German design was competitive and that France was loosing ground and needed to react if it wanted to remain in the race for modernism. The expected changes were not only in the form or the style; they also needed to integrate theory and teaching methods. This event contributed to the creation of the Martine Atelier by Poiret in 1911 or of Primavera, the first department store workshop of the Grands Magasins du Printemps in 1912, by Rene Guillere, who was also the founding member and President of the S.A.D. But the major fact was that the idea of a bigger and more international exhibition was thought possible and would also prove to be profitable for all. World War I however, prevented this event from taking place, but the project did become a reality in 1925 with the Parisian International Decorative Art Exhibition.

In carpet design eastern influence could be found in the floral styles and the geometrical border patterns that could be found in rugs woven in the 1920s.

With this article I wanted to bring attention to the fact that the prevailing explosion of the Art Deco style in Europe and the leading role that France played in the movement was, in the beginning at least, not that of a leading one and that many of the newer concepts were in fact imported from Germany and Austria, with a particular emphasis on the Wiener Werkstatte.

News and Auctions
1)The Aubusson Tapestry has been registered by Unesco as belonging to their cultural world patrimony.
2)On October 14, Wooley & Wallis, UK, will have on sale (lot 1152), two rugs by S. Doene and (lot 1178) a carpet by Frank Brangwyn.
3)Three projects of carpets by Ivan da Silva Bruhns will be auctioned by Aguttes, Lyon, France, October 15, (lots 895, 897 & 898), the other lots come from the last home of the artist in Antibes, France, they include paintings (rare) and gouaches, (lots 889-907).
4)October 19, Artcurial, Paris, will have on sale a collection of signed rugs by Alessandro Mendini, Thomas Tramp, Pierre Cardin, Maison Diurne, Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom, Barbro Peerson, Gumilla Lagerhem-Ullbery.

Article written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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