1920s and 30s plants

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I'm trying to find what sort of foliage would be used to dress an Art Deco, Art Moderne or Streamline style Public Lounge or Bar in the 1920s and early 30s.

Can you please help me in my research.

Laulie Savard

-- Laulie Savard (laulies@hotmail.com), September 22, 2002


Hi Laulie

There really isn't any plant that clearly signifies the early 192O's, bt later in the decade and in the early 193O's the popular plants were cactus and sansiveira.

There's a series of paintings by the artist Charles Sheeler of a potted cactus on a pedsestal, lit like a supermodel. The cactus' fleshy curves and satin-smooth skin (Sheeler emphasized the smooth effect by eliminating the spines) are echoed by the dramatic uplights cast on a pristine white background by a slew of photo-flood lights. Of course, Sheeler being Sheeler, he reveals the artificial nature of the glamour by pulling back the frame of the painting enough to show not only the cactus and the white background with its shadows, but also the dented floodlights themselves, and a tangle of electric cords, and around the edges of the painting, the prosaic surroundings of an ordinary artist's studio. The whole thing is his commentary on the falsity of marketing and advertising.

Art any rate, cactus were hot there for a while. And if the succulent curves of the cactus refer to the voluptousness of movie stars like Mae West and Jean Harlow, the elegant slim spikes of the sansiveira bring to mind the narrow-hipped glamour of B-stars like Gail Patrick. She never got the guy, but her icy perfection and unapproachabe beauty always managed to tempt her co-stars away from the wholesome leadining ladies--at least for a while. The big smiles of the big stars always let you know what you were in for, but Patrick's cool facade promised untapped heat within, like a volcano beneath a snowy mountain.

Well, OK, you didn't het ny of that with a sanasiveria, but you got the elegance. No superfluities like the lacy patterns of a fern, seldom any flowers, just a vertical accent that looked great as an accent on an isloated pedestal, or in big banks, planted in front of a long line of Venetian blinds.

If you need flowers, think linear--the big cliche was the crystal goldfish bowl of calla lillies on the cocktail table.

Regards, Magnaverde

-- Bart Swindall (bartswindall@magnaverde.com), September 30, 2002.

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