In Paris, three exhibitions explore design over the decades

Art Deco in the wake of ocean liners

She is there from the entrance, very small, only about twenty centimeters: a model of the Statue of Liberty by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, dating from 1875. She stands at the root of a story of Franco-American friendship narrated by the City of Architecture and Heritage in Paris. The splendid exhibition “Art Deco France/North America” ​​(until March 6) which is currently held there describes how this style passed from our country to the United States, thanks in particular to the sumptuous transatlantic liners. It dates back well before the highlight that was then the great International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts of 1925 in Paris (a key moment mentioned in the course).

Curators Emmanuel Bréon and Bénédicte Mayer show how links were forged between artists and architects at the end of the First World War. The architect Jacques Carlu (1890-1976) in particular taught in the United States, at MIT in Boston, from 1924 to 1933. Across the Atlantic, in these sumptuous 1920s, he fitted out restaurants, department stores, and the you can see sketches of his projects. Nearly 350 pieces, dresses, paintings and furniture with geometric lines, such as this gigantic chest of drawers by the pope of Art Deco, the interior designer Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann (1879-1933), are showcased in the Palais de Chaillot.

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After the crisis of 1929, the current “Streamline” appeared, a style born in the United States, more industrial, more accessible too, sporting rounder lines and dynamic streaks. Due to the stock market crash, Jacques Carlu returned to France in 1934 and embarked on the construction of the very modern Palais de Chaillot, which was completed in 1937. Just in time for a Universal Exhibition…

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Classy controls at the forefront of modernity

Luxury and refinement at the Mobilier national in Paris, which presents “Le chic! – Decorative arts and furniture from 1930 to 1960” (until February 19). The visit begins with a news film on… the “International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques Applied to Modern Life” in 1937. An opportunity for French decorators to show off their know-how, like this mahogany desk by Cuba by Paul Follot, with lines evoking the aerodynamic front of a car. In the 1930s, the Élysée and the ministries placed an order with these creators at the forefront of modernity, such as Jules Leleu, to decorate living rooms, offices… Luxurious furniture, tapestries, ceremonial lighting then ordered in the 1940s and 1950 are brought together in period rooms beautifully staged by Vincent Darré.

In the whirlwind of trendy “eighties” looks

There are the visitors who wore Stan Smith sneakers forty years ago for the “look” and the others who put them on in the following century in order to be “stylish”. The public at the exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris devoted to the 1980s (until April 16) is divided into two: those who experienced those years of cash, show and madness, and plunge back into them with nostalgia, and those born much later, quite fascinated by this whirlwind of everything and its opposite. The former hum the heady tunes of Richard Gotainer – “Drink, eliminate! » – in the projection room of the emblematic advertisements of this decade. The youngest exclaim in front of the uninhibited sexism, inconceivable today, of certain campaigns.

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There remains an impression of total freedom, bright colors, pop fantasy opposed to black furniture and streamlined like racing machines

By presenting nearly 700 objects, furniture, posters, clothes, record covers, clips, the curators – Amélie Gastaut, Karine Lacquemant, Mathilde Le Corre and Sébastien Quéquet – focus on “fashion, design and graphics in France” . Three names dominate the whole, those of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jean-Paul Goude and Philippe Starck. The political and social context is hardly touched on (too bad for the youngest), even if the electoral poster “La force calme” by François Mitterrand in 1981 opens the visit in majesty.

There remains an impression of total freedom, bright colors, pop fantasy opposed to black furniture and streamlined like racing machines. In the large nave, colorful podiums deploy different universes, neo-baroque (Garouste and Bonetti) or minimalist all in folds at Issey Miyake. An explosive layering from which emerges a constant: humor and parody at work in those years.

In Paris, three exhibitions explore design over the decades