While the Victoria & Albert Museum is busy reappraising Postmodernism, over at the Royal Institute of British Architects they’ve looked a bit further back into history for another much-maligned movement – Art Deco.
Now primarily known as the backdrop to murders in TV dramatisations of Poirot, back in the 1930s Art Deco architecture was everywhere. Hailed by its proponants as the embodiment of glamour and modernity and slated by its critics for its gaudy faux-luxury.
The RIBA show Putting on the Glitz, which opens next month, uses vintage photography of Art Deco buildings in an attempt to explore the popularity of Art Deco.
Alongside well-known buildings such as the Midland Hotel in Morecambe and the Daily Express building on Fleet Street are less familiar examples, including a car showroom in Staines and a fish and chip shop in Sunderland.
Exhibition curator Robert Elwall says, ‘To Modernist architects of the 1930s Art Deco was anathema, a bastardisation of their credo, and many later historians have accepted this judgement.
‘This exhibition aims to redress the balance by exploring Art Deco’s mass appeal and enduring popularity.’
Putting on the Glitz – The Golden Years of Art Deco Architecture in Britain, is at the RIBA, London W1, from 1 October-26 November