Thursday, January 14, 2010

Market Find/ Art Deco Bust

Recently I was asked to a meeting for a client who wanted me to contribute to the redesign of an aspect of an established business. The business itself is very well known but has a clash of styles that are due to a long history in the USA. Trying to define what was the meshing of all these styles into one identity is not easy, So I hit the books and I hit the markets. Unfortunately for me the job does not look like it is materializing but it was a great excuse to delve into some Design History. I realized that you can never have to many books on the history of design, especially furniture and Interior styles, I thought I knew quite a lot about the subject but I do realize that you really need to consider it a lifelong journey to know as much as you can about the history of design. Opening books that go into the greatest detail about what angle of a leg of a chair represents what years it was manufactured to the exact years and what hybrid emerged from the combination of local and international influences is astounding and so interesting!

Anyway this exercise made me eagled eyed at the antique markets also, All of a sudden I was looking at eras I usually bypass. Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Empire and Arts & Crafts. I started buying William Morris inspired swatches of fabric, Crystal chandelier parts, Art Deco busts, anything that would help me identify in more depth the particular era's that influenced the look of the client's company.

One of these finds included an Art Deco piece from what I have come to have I.D'ed as a 1950's piece. It's Italian, But the interesting thing is it's actually inspired by a whole movement of busts, figurines and masks that were produced by the Austrian company "Goldscheider" Art Deco was an international style that is placed as being strongest from 1925 to the 1940's, however when you look at American culture and the design of it's cars, diners and Airstream Caravans, The influence still reached in the 1950's. This piece seems to be derivative of the style of ceramic busts that had it's peak of popularity in the 1930's, but it was produced in Italy and is clearly marked that way. In these collection of images, I tried to create a mini mood board that may explain the way I see the object.

For me her style of clothes is very reminiscent of the Italian screen goddess, Sophia Loren, her catlike eyes and pearls around her slender neck. It is of course replicated in an Austrian style but seems so much more "Italian" to me in it's styling. She also reminds me of a Tamara de Lempicka painting. De Lempicka was a Polish painter who lived in Russia. Her style was very clean, elegant and precise and know as "soft cubism", She painted mainly figures of women, here in her painting "Auto Portrait" she is seen driving a car of the period. The turquoise color of the hat in the bust I found seems so reminiscent of the 1950's but also the Art Deco movement as a whole, It was a popular color in motifs and architecture of the Art Deco period.

Anyway, I had to have her, she was a steal for the price, I found one on an English auction website that was 7 times the price so maybe she will be sitting amongst my ever growing collection of busts for many years to come. I usually shy away from Art Deco, considering it a little over stylized for me, but mixed in, you can actually appreciate the way it can add some "pure decorative flair" to an interior scheme... however like a lot of things, better less than more!. Too much makes you feel you are living on a Hollywood set of a bygone era.


  1. Haysey-fantaysey! - what is wrong with living in a hollywood bygone era?! hmmmm?
    But, love this post - so interesting Master Hay!

  2. Marcus she is FANTASTIC! Love that find. Definitely hold on to her.

  3. I want to go flea marketing with YOU.. You have excellent taste and great luck!