On walks around the city, I'm constantly looking up, searching for fragments of bas-relief Art Deco patterns on house facades. My earlier post " Deco Details" had the most response from readers around the world, which makes me question why there is such an intense interest in this particular style. Is it because Deco design is light-hearted, pretty and superficial? Are people looking back to the 1920s as a period of exceptional affluence, optimism, and progress? Does Deco represent a degree of refinement, grace and sophistication that is lacking in today's society?
|A frieze of undulating waves, fans and flowers|
In Montevideo, Art Deco design is present on almost every block, but no one seems to pay much attention to it. Besides the obvious visual appeal of the style, I'm interested in the fact that Art Deco, a style that originated in Paris, became so popular here in Uruguay. The locals who commissioned Deco designs for their residences clearly wanted their connections to Europe publicly expressed in bricks and mortar. "We are Europeans, and we are fashionable, modern ones," they were declaring.
In 1925, the centennial year for Uruguay, "El libro del Centenario del Uruguay" a publication prepared by the Ministry of Public Instruction stated," Uruguay is populated by the white race, totally of European origin." This was not accurate, of course, but the country was determined during the 1920s to define and promote itself as the most European nation in South America. Art Deco was a perfect fit for the accepted Uruguayan national identity.
|Railway tracks in perspective, contrasted with a shingle pattern|
|Fern or feather motif in a roundel frame|
|Dramatic design with multiple overlapping geometric forms|
|Waves and curls framed with double border|
|Scroll and floral motif punctuated with diagonal chevron shapes|
|An inset panel crowning a house facade|
|A stylized sailboat and seagulls with porthole frame|
|Yachting attire, 1928|
"There was going to be no more poverty, no more ignorance, no more disease. Art Deco reflected that confidence, vigor and optimism by using symbols of progress, speed and power."
- Robert McGregor