The Hoover Building on the A40 at Perivale is the road map from Art Deco to Art Deco revival and Post-Modernism via the Firestone Factory; the route from the radio communications revolution to the Internet revolution.

However Art Deco did not exist as a style until the late 60s when Bevis Hillier identified two main strands which united the decorative arts of the 20s and 30s. The strands were a "feminine somewhat conservative style of 1925 and the masculine reaction of the 30s" with its "use of new materials like chrome and plastics in the place of ebony and ivory."

However in the new millennium the V&A defined Art Deco "as a style label applied to a 'family' of works from the 1910s and the inter-war years whose purpose was decorative." Although not all the decoration was applied; three dimensional architectural forms could be decorative in that they were not following function.

At this point it is interesting to turn to Peter Hall's Cities in Civilisation, in which Book Three: The Marriage of Art and Technology begins with a chapter entitled The Invention of Mass Culture, which coincides precisely with Art Deco. Hall writes that the marriage of art and technology was an American revolution, the mass production of entertainment and culture. American media developments mingled high culture and mass culture, was inclusive and democratic, compared to Europe where culture was exclusive and elitist.

Hence my claim that Art Deco represents the democratisation of culture.

 

next