Art Deco pottery was created in a style that followed closely on the heels of Art Nouveau. It was created in France beginning in 1910, spread throughout the world and, then, lost influence with the onset of World War II.
Art Deco was originally called art moderne or art decoritif. This has caused a lot of confusion in the United States because, when Americanized, the term is translated “art modern.” This label became an umbrella term that covered a wide range of ‘modern’ styles related to the Machine Age. Labels like “Jazz Moderne” and “Zig-Zag” Moderne were also commonplace.
The term we use today – ART DECO – didn’t become popular until the 1960s. In its own time, the style was called by the French terms Arte Moderne or Styles Moderne.
Here is a brief discussion relating to 10 historical and stylistic influences on ART DECO POTTERY.
- ART POTTERY: Art Pottery first developed in England as a reaction to the industrialization of the ceramics industry. The pottery was made both by individual potters and in specially created studios set up by leading manufacturers. Large, established potteries were quick to adopt some form of handcraft. Soon dozens of potteries sprang up in America. Decoration was based on natural forms and the use of popular glazes like mat green and turquoise.
- ART NOUVEAU: Art Nouveau reached its peak in the last decade of the 19th century and continued into the early years of the 20th century. It is known for its distinctive whiplash curves and flowing lines. These were derived from nature and the human figure.
- THE ARTS AND CRAFT MOVEMENT: The Arts and Craft Movement was a 19th century social and artistic reform movement. It greatly impacted attitudes toward handcrafted work in England, Europe, and the United States. As with Art Pottery, it developed as a reaction to the mass industrialization which occurred in the mid 18th century.
- BALLETS RUSSES: Beginning in 1909 in Paris, the Ballet Russes gained international influence. Stage sets and costumes directly influenced French Art Deco designs in all media. The ballet was known for its use of vibrant colors. It immediately transformed color schemes and strongly affected the decorative styles of the period.
- BAUHAUS: The Bauhaus was a school that provided instruction in design and architecture. It was only in existence from 1919-1933, but it has had a lasting influence on Art Deco Pottery. Bauhaus pottery featured unadorned, clean shapes designed for maximum functional efficiency.
- CZECH CUBISM: Czech Cubism imbued small scale domestic objects with the monumentality usually reserved for architecture or sculpture, a quality unique among functional ceramics. The style reflected the abstraction of French Cubist paintings filtered through the Bohemian ideology of a group of Czech architects.
- DE STIJL: Although the group of Dutch artists and architects who made up the De Stijl confederation were not known for ceramics, their style was influential. They were known for pure geometric forms and primary colors, the very attributes that helped to define the Modernist aesthetic.
- DISNEY CARTOON CHARACTERS: The earliest incarnation of Mickey Mouse appeared in 1927. In 1920, Paragon China (a Staffordshire firm) announced that it had signed a deal with Walt Disney for exclusive rights to put cartoon characters on their china. When their rights expired in the mid 1930s, several other companies began featuring the characters.
- FUTURISM: The Italian Futurist movement was founded in 1909. Originally a literary movement, it quickly attracted painters and evolved into an exciting approach for arts of all kinds. The Futurists hoped to infiltrate middle class homes with symbols that would transform lifestyles. They were known both for their functional approach and for pure flights of fancy. They created tiles, dishware and vases, and even planned a ceramic road.
- THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION: The first Revolutionary porcelains were produced in Russia shortly after the October Revolution of 1917. Costly to produce, the work was somewhat out of line with Soviet values. The ceramics have an art world glamor due to the direct involvement of seminal figures in early Modern Art like Vasily Kandinsky.
From the brief discussion above, it is easy to see why Art Deco pottery is so eclectic and glamorous. Many high quality pieces have not yet found their way into private hands, so the work is highly collectible today.