Session 3
1925: A Turning Point

The long awaited 1925 Paris Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts marked the triumph of the new French style. Their motto was: ‘One must be Modern and make it known to the world.’ Countries around the world exhibited their industrial arts at the Exhibition in specially-built pavilions around the Paris Grand-Palais. China was represented by its own section, created and decorated by Liu Jipiao, the architect who then went on to design the 1929 International Exhibition in Hangzhou. Famous French department stores all took part as well, competing for clientele by establishing special new lines of merchandise for the event, and building striking architectural pavilions along the Invalides Esplanade. The artists and designers they hired all espoused the new Art Deco style and were the same whose works were displayed elsewhere in the Exhibition, creating a shared, new artistic vocabulary of Art Deco which the visitors could then take back home.

Because it was a grand, international project, the French Minister of Commerce took great efforts to publicize the Exhibition and it was a great success with foreign visitors coming to see it from all over the world: Europe, North and South America, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Art Deco, it is safe to say, was the first aesthetic movement to resonate around the world.