A Look at Three Famous Art Deco Artists & Their Legacies

A Look at Three Famous Art Deco Artists & Their Legacies
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An Enduring Style

The art deco style has been around for years, dating all the way back to France in the 1920s. It’s a style that represents elegance, something simple in the way of design, though it does use many geometrical shapes and figures.

As with many styles within the world of art, design, and literature, there are several famous art deco artists that brought that style to the forefront and who are remembered even today. While there are many, here we’ll look at three artists whose work is not only representative of the art deco style, but continues to showcase all that goes with it—including digital art and desktop publishing.

Design Appeal

As mentioned, there are plenty of art deco artists that one can research and look at when it comes to understanding what art deco was. Though the style itself may have gone out right after the World War II era, many of these works can still be found all over the world. Take for instance some of the most famous buildings in the world - that of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building - both currently standing in New York City.

The Chrysler Building is considered to be the best representation of the art deco style that is still standing, even after its construction in 1930. This building was designed and overseen by William Van Alen, who while having a career as an architect, is probably most remembered for this building alone.

Then there is Cassandre, a French Ukrainian who is well known for his poster art within the art deco style. His designs are not only remembered for their art deco characteristics, but have influenced advertising agencies for years.

Lastly, we will look at Louis Icart, whose work is greatly remembered for the beautiful, scantily dressed women in them.

William Van Alen & the Chrysler Building

As noted, architect William Van Alen is best known for his design and work on the Chrysler Building in New York City. Born in 1882 in a section of Brooklyn, New York, Van Alen first found his footing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before getting work in 1902 as a draftsman working on the Hotel Astor.

Van Alen would later go to school in Paris during the rise of the art deco movement and return to the US with plans on doing new designs. He would go on to design many of the buildings that were built in New York at the time, however it is his design of the Chrysler Building for Walter Chrysler on Lexington and 42nd. When completed, it was the tallest building in the world before the finished construction of the Empire State Building.

The style of the Chrysler building utilizes the sleekness of steel, as well as the angles and geometric shapes in its construction. Sadly, a dispute with Chrysler would end up costing Van Alen his fortunes and leaving him in obscurity. For designers, the geometric lines and ‘skyscraper’ appeal easily show up within the design of business cards or newsletter publications.

Cassandre - Luxury Travel Designs

Famous Art Deco Artists

Cassandre is a stage name for one Adolphe Mouron, who was born in the Ukraine and then lived in Paris, France from the time he was a boy. Studying painting at the prestigious Écoles des Beaux Arts in Paris, Cassandre decided to move on to designing posters; these posters have become a staple of what the art deco style embodied.

Many of Cassandre’s posters emphasized the new luxury of travel that was coming about with the railroads and airplanes. Using the style that was drawn upon from Cubanism and Futurism, this art deco artist used stencils and airbrushes to get the styling that we continue to see today. One of his hallmarks was to use all capital lettering in his posters, believing them to be easier to read.

Louis Icart - Embodiment of Sex Appeal

Louis Icart was another French artist, being born in Toulouse in 1880. Originally drawing from an early age, Icart began a career within the fashion industry. During his stint in World War I, Icart used his talent to break away from the horrors of war that many soldiers faced. Many of these works would go on to sell and currently, they are extremely rare - and valuable - to find.

It was during the time of the art deco movement that Icart focused more on his drawing and his designs. Icart is mostly famous for his posters that show off the exotic and sometimes erotic nature of women, though sometimes with a humorous and flirtatious hint. Some have stated that his designs are reminiscent of Degas and Monet, both major names in the Impressionist movement.

What Designers Can Learn From These Artists

As with many things in life, those that have gone before often teach those that are left and even inspire them in their own right. In looking at these three famous art deco artists, we see different styles, but we all get a look at what the art deco movement was and what it holds in terms of how it continues to impact our visuals.

Graphic designers and desktop publishers can view these different artists and take some of their designs into their own ideas. The styles of Cassandre, for instance, are still being used in advertising; graphic designers and desktop publishers still use the all capitalized fonts in order to create better visibility, especially if their ads are being seen from moving vehicles. Some designers still employ the airbrush technique, though they may be using the computerized version of it.

The angled design and geometry of the Chrysler building can be used for the design of buildings done for publications or graphic novels and the styles of Icart can be used to bring back a more flirtatious style to any model. Art deco in itself can still be seen, even if it is not at its former height, and the artists mentioned throughout have helped to keep it in the forefront of the public and that of budding artists.


New York Times Streetscapes


Mid 20th Century Monte Carlo Posters

Images via Morgue File, Arty Factory