Art Deco Prints - How to Spot the True Style

Art Deco Prints - How to Spot the True Style

Art Deco, a design movement that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, has left an indelible mark on the world of art, architecture, and fashion. Known for its lavish ornamentation, bold geometric shapes, and rich colors, Art Deco embodies the exuberance and optimism of the Roaring Twenties. This blog post will guide you through the history and origins of Art Deco design, its defining characteristics, how it stands apart from other art movements, and will shine a spotlight on George Barbier, a key figure in the Art Deco world.

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The Origins of Art Deco

Art Deco's roots can be traced back to Paris, France, where it was first introduced at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925. The movement sought to break away from the flowing asymmetry of its predecessor, Art Nouveau, and instead embraced symmetry, streamlined forms, and the machine aesthetic of the industrial age. Art Deco quickly spread across the globe, influencing the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, and, of course, art prints.

Characteristics of Art Deco Design

Geometric Shapes and Symmetry

One of the most recognizable features of Art Deco is its use of geometric shapes. Triangles, rectangles, and circles come together in symmetrical arrangements to create visually striking designs. Art Deco prints often feature these shapes in bold, repetitive patterns that convey a sense of order and balance.

Rich Colors and High Contrast

Art Deco art prints are renowned for their vibrant color schemes and high contrast. Luxurious golds, deep blues, and bright reds are common, creating a sense of opulence and glamour. These colors are not just decorative; they also serve to highlight the geometric precision of the designs.

Exotic and Historical Motifs

Art Deco was influenced by a fascination with the ancient and the exotic. Egyptian, African, and Aztec motifs, as well as imagery from the Greco-Roman and Egyptian cultures, are often incorporated into Art Deco designs, adding a layer of mystique and sophistication.

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Distinguishing Art Deco from Other Art Movements

Art Deco is often compared to Art Nouveau and Modernism, two other influential design movements. While Art Nouveau is characterized by organic, flowing lines and natural motifs, Art Deco is defined by its geometric shapes and symmetry. Compared to Modernism's emphasis on function and simplicity, Art Deco is more decorative, focusing on luxury and embellishment.

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George Barbier: An Icon of Art Deco

George Barbier, one of the most prominent artists of the Art Deco era, played a crucial role in shaping the movement's aesthetic. Born in 1882 in Nantes, France, Barbier was a versatile artist, known for his fashion illustrations, book illustrations, and costume designs. His work is a perfect example of Art Deco's lavishness, featuring elegant figures, elaborate detailing, and vibrant colors.

Barbier's illustrations for fashion magazines such as "Vogue" and "Harper's Bazaar" captured the essence of the Art Deco woman - stylish, sophisticated, and modern. He also designed costumes for theater and film, further cementing his influence on the Art Deco style.

How to Spot True Art Deco Prints

Look for the Geometric Shapes and Symmetry

True Art Deco prints will almost always feature the geometric shapes and symmetrical layouts that are hallmarks of the movement. Whether it's an abstract pattern or a more figurative design, the precision and order of these elements are key indicators of the Art Deco style.

Examine the Color Scheme

Authentic Art Deco prints will utilize a rich and vibrant color palette, often with high contrast between hues. Look for the luxurious golds, deep blues, and other opulent colors that define Art Deco artwork.

Identify Exotic and Historical Motifs

Many Art Deco designs incorporate motifs from ancient and exotic cultures. Spotting these elements can help you distinguish true Art Deco prints from those of other movements.

Research the Artist

Familiarizing yourself with artists known for their Art Deco work, like George Barbier, can also help you identify authentic pieces. Artists of the Art Deco era often have a distinct style that reflects the movement's characteristics.

Incorporating Art Deco Prints into Your Decor

Art Deco prints and posters can add a touch of elegance and glamour to any space. Whether you're looking for art deco prints for the living room or art deco prints for the bathroom, these artworks can elevate your home decor. When selecting an Art Deco print, consider the color scheme of your room and the print's size to ensure it complements your space beautifully.


Art Deco prints offer a glimpse into a bygone era of luxury, glamour, and artistic innovation. By understanding the characteristics that define this style and learning how to distinguish true Art Deco from other movements, you can confidently select authentic Art Deco artwork for your home. Whether you're drawn to the geometric precision, the rich colors, or the exotic motifs, incorporating Art Deco prints into your decor can bring a timeless elegance to your living spaces.

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