Douglas Yaney
African Tribal Art Gallery
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Art Deco designs borrowed from African designs

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Art Deco Figure

designs borrowed from traditional
African
designs
?
African Art Deco figure

Years ago when I was still living in Atlanta, I learned there was to be a talk given about the connection between Art Deco designs and African Art. I was already a huge fan of the clean geometric lines of the art deco style because when I was a kid in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I had adopted the Lincoln Tower Lincon Tower, Fort Wayne, INas my own personal favorite building. This beautiful sky scraper built in 1929 was my first introduction to the art deco style of architecture. This set me on a life long path of being drawn to any and all art deco designs in furniture, art, useful objects and most of all, architecture. I think my high school geometry teacher, Miss Lutie Young, also influenced my appreciation of clean cut, simple geometric shapes. Over the years I collected several pieces of art deco furniture and other objects that I found at antique fairs and flea markets.

At the time of the announced lecture I was just starting to explore buying some African masks and figures. My interest was highly piqued, so I went to hear what the speaker had to say. The main thing I remember was the similarities in style. The woman who gave the talk had many photo slides showing African objects along side objects made during the Art Deco movement that started in the 1920s and on into the 1930s and 1940s. Seeing the beautiful designs side by side, it became quite evident that many of the art deco designs were borrowed directly from design elements of the much older traditional African carvings.

It is well documented that artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti and Braque were being influenced by African objects that they had access to early in their careers. Many of Picasso's faces appeared to have been painted using geometric shapes with traditional African masks as inspiration, thus creating a new style to be called cubism, so it makes perfect sense that some of the designers of art deco design were similarly inspired.

Many of the design elements in the art deco buildings built in New York City in the 1930s were a direct result of the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb in one of the Egyptian pyramids. Many of the famous older skyscrapers of Manhattan were constructed during the Art Deco period. These are just a few examples including the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building. A video by Alan G. Wasenius




What is Art Deco? Watch this video to learn more.


Miami Beach Art Deco District
video presentation for History of Architecture 1 - Professor Lyle Culver.



This is the sequel to the Alan G. Wasenius Video ART DECO MAKES NEW YORK CITY GREAT. From the former home of the Paramount Theater, to a building that was restored after being damaged in the World Trade Center attacks, and an old hotel, the Art Deco style surrounds the city of New York.

On a personal note: My first visit to New York City with friends took me from the Newark Airport, to the city by bus to the Port Authiority Bus Terminal, then a short walk to the old McGraw Hill Building to meet our host for the week-end. Not only was it a thrill to be in an incredible Art Deco building as you can see in the above film, but we also were told many stories about John Kennedy, Jr. from when he worked in that building. Stupid things like his mom would call to leave messages, but it was Jackie, so that made it exciting to us.