Art Deco Decadence
George Barbier, a French graphic artist, created this scene of cultured decadence. It is a pochoir print based on a 1924 watercolour; it appeared in the following year’s fashion annual, Falbalas et Fanfreluches. This magazine made it a point to commission its illustrators to create themed series of illustrations. ‘ Barbier depicts Sloth here, one of the vices depicted in a series depicting the Seven Deadly Sins.
The setting is a sort of harem, with two very modern odalisques lounging on an abundance of carpets and cushions. The birds in the background appear to be inspired by the traditional image of the phoenix, but they are more likely to be inspired by the currently fashionable image of the Firebird—the magical bird of Russian folklore and the subject of Stravinsky’s contentious 1910 ballet. Other Art Deco elements include the massive table lamp; women’s short, bobbed hairstyles; and, perhaps most significantly, the slender cigarette holder, which had become the latest in fashionable self-indulgence. The abandoned book harkens back to earlier depictions of Sloth, when artists focused more on mental inactivity than physical laziness.
Zaczek, I., & O’Mahony, M. (2002). Essential art deco. Internet Arhive. Paragon Publishing. https://archive.org/details/essentialartdeco0000zacz_q0i3.
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