Celebrating the Timeless Glamour of Art Deco

A 1925 French black lacquer cabinet.

hide captionA 1925 French black lacquer cabinet is one of the show's highlights.

© ADAGP, Paris and ARS, New York 2002.
Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star, 1929.

hide captionNancy Beaton as a Shooting Star, 1929.

Cecil Beaton (English, 1902-1980) © Victoria and Albert Museum

An exhibit in San Francisco celebrates all things Art Deco, including furniture, fashion, jewelry, architecture and industrial design from the early 20th century. NPR's Susan Stamberg tours the show.

One of the show's stars is a large black lacquer cabinet incised with slim silver lines. The French cabinet debuted to big crowds at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels. The 1925 international decorative arts expo in Paris put the new, modern style on the map. In those days, it was called Moderne, Jazz Moderne or Streamline Modern. The Art Deco label didn't stick until the design was resurrected in the late 1960s.

In the Depression years, Art Deco moved from one-of-a-kind luxury items to mass-produced, more affordable consumer goods — toasters, cigarette lighters and space heaters. An example on display: a meat slicer that looks like a sleek piece of modern sculpture.

Art Deco, 1910-1939, which was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, is at San Francisco's Legion of Honor through July 4. It moves to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Sept. 19, 2004-Jan 9, 2005.

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