The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s
In the 1920s, groundbreaking ideas about art, fashion, and decor “sluiced back and forth across the Atlantic like iced gin in a cocktail shaker,” said Steven Litt in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A “sprawling, gorgeous” exhibition in Cleveland is reviving that “sexy, ebullient” era, inviting visitors to revel in flapper dresses, high-society jewels, rampant skyscraper worship, and art deco ornamentation. Just don’t expect the phrase “art deco” to appear in any wall text. The curators decided that so many currents contributed to the arrival of distinctively modern design that one label shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow all else. Again and again, the objects on display yield unexpected juxtapositions that “crackle with energy.”
The show, though enjoyable from start to end, “doesn’t quite prove its point,” said Roberta Smith in The New York Times. After an opening section that showcases the staid ornamental style that the wealthy still favored at the start of the 1920s, art deco rushes in and seizes our eyes and imaginaRuth tion. The initial wave arrives from Paris in high-end pieces like a gondola-shaped upholstered sofa made of rosewood. Next comes an array of nightlife accessories, including bejeweled cigarette cases and Gloria Swanson’s diamond-and-platinum Cartier cuff bracelets, all conjuring a
Feher’s ornamental screen: Paris meets Cleveland.