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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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The Story of Art Deco

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American Watercolor in the
Age of Homer and Sargent

by Bob Brooke

Watercolor is a uniquely American medium. Two of the artists credited with encouraging its use among serious artists were Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent. The watercolor movement tells a story about innovation, experimentation, and the creation of bold new ways of seeing the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has gathered some rarely seen masterpieces which traces the rise of watercolor in the United States for this exhibit.

Although widely practiced in the U.S. before the Civil War, watercolor painting was mostly a medium for amateurs, women, and commercial artists. The great fine art salons didn’t recognize it until much later. Most professional artists saw it as a medium for preliminary sketches.

Long the domain of amateur painters, watercolors had finally gained professional respectability in 1866 with the formation of the American Water Color Society. Its annual exhibitions soon became the most liberal forum in New York, uniting artists of all ages, styles, and backgrounds. Drawing talent from the ranks of illustrators, who used watercolor on the job, and gaining strength from the Impressionists and landscape artists, who sketched in watercolor outdoors, the movement also welcomed new arts and crafts designers.

The growing popularity of watercolor began to catch the eye of collectors, who encouraged more artists to try the medium. By the early 1880s, every corner of the American art world was represented in the Society’s galleries, from avant-garde painters returning from Europe to established artists wanting to learn new techniques to illustrators looking to elevate their work to fine art, and finally to women artists seeking an entrée into the professional art world.

The American watercolor movement created stars like Winslow Homer, John La Farge, Thomas Moran, and William Trost Richards, all of whom remained dedicated to the medium for decades. Thomas Eakins, George Inness, and others rode the wave through its peak in the 1880s. Together, their work produced a taste for watercolor among younger artists and eager collectors that would endure through the turn of the century. This inspired a new illustrators, such as Maxfield Parrish and Jessie Willcox Smith, decorators from the circle of Louis C. Tiffany, and plein air masters such as John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, and Maurice Prendergast.

But it was Homer who captured the imagination of the public through his hauntingly beautiful scenes of the sea off the coast of Maine and the forests of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. During the 1870s, Homer took an interest in watercolor and plunged into using it. He eventually worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid style while chronicling his working vacations in the Adirondacks.

Homer recognized watercolor’s potential for profit—for he could produce and sell these paintings quickly—but he also liked the way watercolor allowed him to experiment more easily than oil. Their success enabled him to give up his work as a freelance illustrator by 1875.

He created his first series of watercolor paintings in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1873, and by the time he painted his last watercolor, in 1905, he had become the unrivaled master of the medium in America. From the beginning, his technique was natural, fluid and confident, demonstrating his innate talent for a difficult medium.

Thanks to the legacy of Homer, Sargent, and their contemporaries, the next generation—Charles Demuth and Edward Hopper among them—would choose watercolor as a principal medium. Within 50 years, the Modernists would demonstrate that the reputation of watercolor had been rebuilt as a powerful and versatile “American” medium.

Through the landscapes and illustrations, as well as designs for stained glass and ceramics, in this exhibit, viewers will experience one of the country’s great artistic legacies.

NOTE: The exhibit closes in Philadelphia at 7 P.M. on May 14.

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