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ARTH 450 Advanced Seminar in the History of Art and Architecture

  • Tuesdays, 11:45 am-2:30 pm
  • Instructor: Dr. John Potvin

2025 marks the 100th anniversary of the famed 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratives et Industriels Modernes. Paris in the 1920s was the site of an incredible creative moment across all disciplines. It also witnessed: the proliferation of interior design and fashion periodicals; a continuation of the avant-garde project for some artists while others sought a ‘retour a l’ordre’; a rejuvenation of national design industries, and; a flourishing of haute couture salons like never before. In tandem with this creative exuberance, sexual liberation and gender transgression also become hallmarks of the period, particularly amongst the cultural and artistic set, largely comprised of foreign nationals. Creativity and sexuality became inseparable both for the individual subject and certain marginalized communities as much as it was part of a national agenda, which sought to rebuild the health of the nation, returning it to its former, virile glory. Not by accident, numerous intersections and confluences culminated in the celebrated Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925. This seminar will explore the exposition as a critical, defining moment. The exposition, while widely popular, was also the site of much controversy. Importantly, it was also the origin for the creation of the term Art Deco, coined retroactively in 1966, as a derogatory term to designate the overtly decorative nature of the so-called Art Deco style. This course will explore the impact and outcomes of the 1925 exposition in both fashion and interior design.

Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs, Pavillon du Collectionneur, 1925.
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