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American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939
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American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939

During the years between World War I and II, 1918–1939, Americans embraced a freer, more open society. The works of art, design, and architecture in what is known as the Art Deco style express a widespread confidence in the American dream. Technological advances and innovations in production and materials enabled buildings to increase in height and more people to travel, enjoy expanded leisure time, and furnish their homes with new objects. Yet it was also a complicated time, with racial tensions and economic depression further disenfranchising many Americans.

Traveling nationally before its presentation in Kansas City, this exhibition reconsiders this complex era in our nation’s history through a dazzling collection of Art Deco objects. It also celebrates the contributions of those who faced social inequities and explores the lasting impacts that this period had on American society.

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Joslyn Art Museum. In Kansas City, generous support provided by The Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, JE Dunn Construction, Nancy and Rick Green, Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, and Tivol. This exhibition is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hero Image:
Casimir Brau, designer French, active 1890–1930 Rosengart Cars, manufacturer France, 1923–1955 Leaping Horse Mascot, c. 1925 bronze with nickel plating 4 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 8 1/4 in. Marshall V. Miller Collection

Paul T. Frankl, designer (American, born Austria, 1887–1958); Warren Telechron Company, manufacturer (Ashland, Massachusetts, 1926–1992). Modernique Clock, 1928. Chromiun-plated and enameled metal, molded Bakelite, brush- burnished silver, 7 3/4 x 6 x 3 1/2 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, Gift of Michael Merson, 2010.0670. Image courtesy of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver. Photo: Wes Magyar.

Amédée (Paris, France, founded 1851). Gold Sequined Dress, c. 1927–29. Sequins over silk and net, 40 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. Courtesy of the Kansas City Museum, Kansas City, Missouri, 1949.119

Paul Schreckengost, designer (American, 1908–1983); Gem Clay Forming Co., manufacturer (Sebring, Ohio, 1907–1960s). Punch Bowl, Ladle, and Cups, 1938– 39. Ceramic, bowl: 4 1/2 x 12 x 12 in.; ladle: 1 1/4 x 12 x 3 in.; cup: 2 3/4 x 5 x 3 3/4 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, CG0718; CG0719–CG0722; 2004.3040. Image courtesy of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver. Photo: Wes Magyar.