Art deco thumbs its nose at the statist dystopia


Cassandra has a quite puzzling definition of post-modernism, that it is in fact a negative, whereas I see it as a positive.  On the other hand, she sees Enlightenment as a positive whereas I see it as a negative.

I quite like much post-modern architecture which harks back to the bold, warm, elegant opulence of art-deco, some of which you’ll see below.  Pomo architecture rejects the rules, constructs and strictures of modernism and lashes out with decorative elements which are anathema to the conformist Statist dream of cold geometrics and utilitarianism. Modernists see pomo architecture and art as decadent and frivolous whereas I see it as fresh and fun.

As for the Enlightenment, I don’t see Enlightenment philosophers who aimed for secularization, dechristifying and a cold modern dystopia, men like Hegel and the particularly obnoxious Voltaire, as all that worthy of reverence.

Cassandra seems to agree in a way:

As God was the center of the Universe, with Pope, King or Emperor as spiritual and secular substitutes in feudal times – during modernity in Nationalism – the Nation quite literally usurped God’s place, as did the State in all incarnations of Statism.

If she agrees with this, then why support Kant, Hume and the other Enlightenment thinkers?  Anyway, to Art Deco, which is anything but Statist in nature:






9 comments for “Art deco thumbs its nose at the statist dystopia

  1. December 29, 2009 at 00:00

    Love the pics. What’s dear old Voltaire done to you?

  2. December 29, 2009 at 00:41

    and quite a few enlightenment philosophers were men of God- take Paley!

  3. December 29, 2009 at 03:25

    Hegel – Enlightenment? Not sure about that.

  4. December 29, 2009 at 11:04

    Welshcakes – that will take a post which will follow if Cassandra ever comes over and takes an axe to me.

    Tiberius – that’s true and yet it isn’t true. One can make out a case for Kant being a deist despite the interpretation.

    Trooper – that’s the core qusetion – the definition of Enlightenment. I actualy call it the Darkening and there is Hegel’s critique but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t of that time, affected by the ideas and didn’t parallel the godless statism and cynical pragmatism he’s known for.

  5. December 29, 2009 at 14:13

    I think art deco is *the* architecture of individualism, with all its expressive flourishes and idiosyncrasies. It is notable that in the golden age of totalitarianism, art deco got severely stripped down to make it more subservient (Eur comes to mind

    I think Voltaire is not without his saving graces however 😛

    • December 29, 2009 at 15:55

      Perry – welcome as ever. You’re right about the individualism and even may we say idiosyncrasy but what about Streamline Modern?

  6. December 29, 2009 at 16:11

    I think Streamline Moderne is still very much high style art deco and quite different in character to Eur style ‘stark’ art deco.

    But lest I give the impression to the contrary, I do not think ‘fascist’ art deco derived architecture (such as Eur) is completely without merit either (I think the Italians and Germans did that rather more successfully, for the most part at least, than the Soviets did), just that streamline moderne usually had a somewhat different character to ‘fascist moderne’ if you will. I have no problem admiring the artefacts of odious political systems in aesthetic isolation from the systems themselves, much as a anti-statist ‘libertarian’ can still admire an SS uniform as a fine bit of military tailoring.

  7. December 29, 2009 at 23:06

    Soviet Moderne as well was very dynamic and Stalin’s buildings in Moscow are quite imposing. The Metro used to sport some fine examples of revolutionary sculpture but I believe most of them have been removed now.

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