Sunday, June 29, 2008

Art Deco 1910 - 1939, NGV, Melbourne

It's been a big few days for Art Deco in Melbourne.

Last Thursday saw the official opening of the the latest Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, Art Deco 1910 - 1939 by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) have worked with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London since it was exhibited there in 2003 to bring many of the fabulous Art Deco treasures to Melbourne.

By necessity, not all of the pieces from the V&A exhibition have travelled to Australia but the major display from the V&A has. The reconstructed foyer from the Strand Palace Hotel has been shipped out and now takes pride of place at the NGV. Staff from the V&A saved this fantastic Art Deco structure when the hotel was being demolished in the late 1960s.

The exhibition also includes many items from the NGV collection and from private collectors and there is a separate section dedicated to Australian deco.

Another undeniable highlight is the rare Cord 812 Westchester Sedan. Only 3000 were manufactured between 1936 and 1937 and the one in the exhibition is one of only 60 right-hand drive models manufactured and one of only 16 in Australia.

There are over 300 exhibits including Cartier jewellery, Hollywood film clips and multimedia slide shows.

On Saturday, the exhibition opened to the public and the NGV hosted an Art Deco symposium which was booked out weeks ago. Judging by the numbers of people attending the first day, it should be a major success. The 2003 V&A exhibition was their most popular ever.

This morning, the Art Deco Society conducted a walking tour of Melbourne deco buildings. It was well attended and attracted visitors from interstate and the USA.

So I should be all deco-ed out but I'm still excited about the exhibition and the 99 days that it still has to run. That's because they used some of my photos in the multimedia slide shows to illustrate Art Deco buildings from around the world.

I can't deny it was a thrill to see my photos among all those great Art Deco pieces and eavesdropping on the visitors conversations as each building appeared on the screen.

If you love deco and can get to Melbourne before October 5th, do it, you won't regret it. And if you can't, you can always have a look at The Age Art Deco page presented to complement the exhibition.

Art Deco 1910 - 1939, NGV website
Art Deco Society website
The Age Art Deco page


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